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What is now a large open space in the middle of Ancient Stageira, cleared of vegetation since the start of archaeological excavations in 1990, was once the city's agora (Greek, Ἀγορά, from ageirein, to gather together), the marketplace and centre of public life. The agora was surrounded by shops, workshops, a warehouse, religious and administrative buildings, such as the stoa, and presumably a courthouse.
Today the agora's focal point is the Classical arcade (the stoa, see next page), immediately to the left (northwest) of which a small altar has been discovered (gallery page 26). Directly in front of it are the remains of Archaic buildings from the 6th century BC, one circular and two rectagular in plan (gallery page 27), near which other Archaic remains, including what are thought to have been foundations of monuments, have also been found. To the right is part of a paved street (see below) along the front of a building complex, thought to have been a public warehouse (gallery pages 28-29).
Behind the agora, on the slopes of the city's North Hill, stood a densely-built residential area (see gallery page 20), 6th century Archaic fortifications, an Archaic temple (gallery page 32) and a large Hellenistic building (gallery page 30), as well as a much later Byzantine fort (gallery pages 36-37).
Aristotle believed that one of the main reasons for the existence of communites was trade, and that a well organized and regulated market was of primary importance to a community's dignity and happiness:
"The first thing necessary is to establish proper regulators in the markets; for which purpose a certain magistrate should be appointed to inspect their contracts and preserve good order; for of necessity, in almost every city there must be both buyers and sellers to supply each other's mutual wants: and this is what is most productive of the comforts of life; for the sake of which men seem to have joined together in one community."
Aristotle, Politics (Πολιτικά, Things concerning the polis), Book 6, chapter 8.
Politics: a treatise on government by Aristotle, translated by William Ellis. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London & Toronto, and E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1928. At Project Gutenberg.