Image Archive - Miscellaneous

Ostraka (fragments of pottery) were used as the means of registering votes in various parts of Greece. At Athens, in the fifth century BC, they were used to vote in favour of the banishment of powerful individuals whose presence was thought to threaten the stability of the city. If ‘ostracised’, the individual was required to stay away from the city, usually for a period of ten years.
This ostrakon bears the name of Aristeides the son of Lysimachos, a leading Athenian politician who was banished in 482 BC but, unusually, allowed back in 480. It is one of more than 120 so far discovered bearing his name. Note the spelling 'Arissteides'. Spelling variations, crossings out and insertions are a feature of ostraka.
From the ancient Agora of Athens. Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora.

For the publication and study of ostraka from the Athenian Agora, see M. L. Lang, The Athenian Agora. Results of the Excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. XXV. The Ostraka (Princeton, N.J., 1990); includes line drawings and photographs. On ostracism, see Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd. edn., ed. S. Hornblower and T. Spawforth) 1083.

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