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DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


[Gk óστρακov ‘earthen vessel, tile, potsherd’] In the city state of Athens ostracism was a method of temporary banishment effected by public vote, where the name of the person whom it was proposed to banish was written on pieces of broken pottery ( Figure 8 ). In addition to providing valuable epigraphic data, ostraca are an indication of the spread of literacy in ancient Athens and its role in Greek democracy. A person could be banished from Athens only if his name was written on ostraca by at least 6,000 citizens - clear evidence that the art of writing was not confined to a class of professional scribes. Figure 8 Potsherds with the names of Themistocles, Pericles, Aristides and Kimon scratched on them for ostracism (Agora Museum, Athens) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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