Location and Name
– Kerameikos is located to the northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
– The area is both within and outside the ancient city walls.
– It is situated on both sides of the Dipylon Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River.
– The name ‘Kerameikos’ is derived from the Greek word ‘kéramos’ meaning pottery clay.
– The Latinized form of the name is Ceramicus.

History and Description
– The Inner Kerameikos was the potters quarter within the city, while the Outer Kerameikos covers the cemetery.
– The cemetery, known as Dēmósion Sēma, is located just outside the city walls.
– Kerameikos was originally a marshland used as a cemetery since the 3rd millennium BC.
– The area underwent archaeological excavations, revealing cist graves and burial offerings.
– Large grave mounds and monuments were built along the south bank of the Eridanos during the Archaic period.

City Walls and Gates
– The city wall built in 478 BC changed the appearance of Kerameikos.
– Funerary sculptures were incorporated into the city wall at the suggestion of Themistocles.
– Two large city gates were erected, facing north-west.
– The Sacred Way ran through the Sacred Gate to Eleusis, while the Dromos ran through the Dipylon Gate.
– State graves were built on either side of the Dipylon Gate for prominent individuals.

Monument Building and Destruction
– Lavish mausolea were constructed along the Sacred Way before the late 4th century BC.
– In 317 BC, the construction of such lavish mausolea was banned, allowing only small columns or inscribed square marble blocks as grave stones.
– The Roman occupation led to a resurgence of monument-building.
– The Pompeion, an important public building, stood inside the walls and served a key function in the Panathenaic Festival.
– The Pompeion and other buildings in the vicinity were destroyed by the Roman army in 86 BC.

Archaeological Excavations
– Excavations in Kerameikos began in 1870 under the Greek Archaeological Society.
– The German Archaeological Institute at Athens has continued excavations since 1913.
– Recent findings include a 2.1 m tall Kouros unearthed by the German Archaeological Institute.
– During the construction of the Kerameikos metro station, a plague pit and approximately 1,000 tombs from the 4th and 5th centuries BC were discovered.
– The plague pit is believed to contain victims from the Plague of Athens, based on the dating and nature of the burial.Sources: