Shopping in Ancient Greece
In ancient Greece, the central shopping area of a city was called the agora. A typical Greek city had a large open area where local merchants could set up displays and sell their products. In Athens, one could find a large variety of items from around the Mediterranean. There was linen from Egypt, ivory from North Africa, spices from Syria, and dates from Phoenicia. Merchants of similar goods had shops together in a specific area in the agora. The market was often crowded and tended to be noisy. Criers called out specials or announced when fresh fish arrived from the boats. Prices were rarely firm, so bargaining with the merchants was a common practice.
In Athens women shopped with a male relative or slave. Only very poor women would shop in the markets alone. Women from other city-states often found the Athenian customs restrictive and overprotective. The rich carried their money in purses, while the poor kept coins in their mouths.