City Dwellings

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There was little planning in the set up of streets, houses and other common buildings in Classical Athens. Most streets were narrow and crooked while most houses were small and quite poor. However, there were also large and spacious houses, especially in the Skambonidai district. The Koile district, to the south of the Pnyx, had the highest density.

During our period of reference, all houses consisted of rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The pastas, a part of the courtyard usually exposed to the south, was often covered with a roof. Several houses also contained a room with a direct access to the street but no access to the rest of the house. Such a room was used for a shop or workshop. Athenian houses had no plumbing.

Houses were aligned along the streets as one continuous series of blank walls only pierced by doors giving access to the inner courts. There were usually no street windows if the house was only one story high. Two stories houses had a few narrow slits above the way. Otherwise, windows were opening on the inner court. The lower part of outer walls was made of stone and the upper of sun-dried bricks stuccoed in various shades of white, gray and yellow. The floors were made of clay. The roofs were made of wood covered with terracotta tiles.


The andron (dining room) was the main entertaining room. It was furnished with dining couches. Contrarily to the other rooms, the andron was paved with sea pebbles.

Water Supply

Some houses had a well and most had a cistern to collect rainwater. Nevertheless, Athenians had to rely on public fountains to complete these supplies.

Inner Walls

The inner faces of walls were often plastered and painted. During the Classical Period, walls were often monochrome: red, white, buff, yellow or black. Base boards, 0.3 m high, were also used. They were usually white but could also be black, yellow or red.


Furniture was mostly made of wood and webbing and was often reduced to a bare minimum. It consisted of chests, chairs, stools, three-legged round tables, four-legged rectangular tables, beds and couches. Chairs, stools and tables were moved around the house when necessary. Vases, incense burners and tripods could also be found in wealthier houses.

Houses were lit with lamps and heated with braziers.

Cooking utensils: amphoras, mortars, grills, portable cookers and ovens were mostly made of terracotta. Cooking was often done outdoor.

A terracotta hip bath was the most commonly used type of bath tub.

A terracotta high chair was used to sit babies.


Connolly, Peter and Hazel Dodge; The Ancient City - Life in Classical Athens & Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Davis, W. S.; A Day in Old Athens, 1910

Flacelière, Robert, La vie quotidienne en Grèce au siècle de Périclès, Hachette, 1959

Travlos, John, Pictorial dictionary of Ancient Athens, Books that matter, New York, 1971, p. 392

To Do

  1. Include an illustration of well-head in the Water Supply section
  2. Include illustrations of furnitures in the Furnitures section
  3. Include illustrations of cooking utensils in the Furnitures section
  4. Include an illustration of a hip bath in the Furnitures section
  5. Include an illustration of a high chair in the Furnitures section
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