The Jury

The jurors for each trial were chosen from a large body of citizens available for jury duty for the period of one year. At the beginning of the year, each juror was given a bronze pinakion, a plaque that had his name, father's name, and deme (and therefore tribe) inscribed on it.

Bronze juror's ticket (pinakion), 4th century B.C. L.: 0.102 m. Athens, Agora Museum B 822. This identification ticket carries the juror's name: Demophanes; the first letters of his father's name: Phil .... ; and his deme: Kephisia.
Allotment machine (kleroterion), third century B.C.

The pinakia were used in kleroteria, allotment machines that assigned jurors to the courts. The procedure worked as follows: On the day a trial was to be held, the potential juror would appear before the magistrate in charge of the allotment who was stationed at one of these machines. At the base of the kleroterion were ten baskets, one for each of the ten tribes. The pinakion would go into the appropriate tribal basket, which was labeled with the name of the juror's tribe. When it was time to allot jurors to courts, the magistrate would take the pinakia from the first tribal basket and put them into the first vertical row of slots in the machine, the pinakia from the second basket into the second row, and so on until he had placed all the pinakia into slots.

Reconstruction drawing of the jury-allotment device (kleroterion). Agora Museum Archives. Ten rows of narrow slots were used to hold the juror's tickets. The hollow tube held black and white balls. When cranked, a black or white ball issued forth, determining who would serve that day. The machine assured random selection of the jury and equal tribal representation. According to Aristotle, a pair of such kleroteria stood at the entrance to each court (Athenian Constitution 63).

Along the side of the machine was a hollow bronze tube, with a funnel at the top and a crank at the bottom. Into the funnel the magistrate poured a mixture of white and black marbles, which would line up in the tube in random order. A turn of the crank at the bottom produced a single ball. If it was white, the ten citizens (one from each tribe) whose pinakia were set into the first horizontal row would be assigned to the jury for that day and would proceed at once to the court. If it was a black ball, all citizens whose pinakia were in that row were dismissed for the day. The procedure was repeated until a court was filled, selecting ten jurors with every white ball.

The machine assured absolutely random selection, both in the order in which the pinakia were placed in the kleroterion and in the order in which the balls appeared. There was no easy way to bribe an Athenian jury, made up of at least 201 men chosen immediately before the court sat. At the same time, the kleroterion chose one juror from each of the ten tribes with each white ball, so that there was equal tribal representation on every court. The machine could also be used to appoint a board of ten magistrates, in this case only one of the balls would be white. As much as any object left to us from antiquity, the kleroterion indicates the lengths to which the Athenians went in trying both to ensure equality and to forestall corruption in their governmental affairs.

Lead tokens, 4th century B.C. D.: 0.015-0.023 m. Athens, Agora Museum IL 656, 819, 893, 944, 1146, 1173, 1233. According to Aristotle, the juror on entering the court received a token, or symbolon (Athenian Constitution 65, 68, 69). After voting he turned in the token and was thus entitled to receive his fee of three obols (one-half a drachma). Some fifty such tokens have come to light in the Agora, most dating to the 4th and early 3rd century B.C. Decorated with various images-a bow, a cow, a dolphin, crossed torches, rosette, Nike, a ship, as well as letters (E or K), indicating the court to which the juror was assigned or a particular seating area within the court.

Athenian jurors were paid, another democratic procedure designed to ensure that all could afford to serve. Small round lead tokens or symbola were issued to jurors who had been allotted to assure proper payment to the right individuals. Payment was made only at the end of the trial and only upon presentation of the symbolon. Numerous symbola have been found scattered over the Agora; they carry different devices and letters to indicate the court to which the juror was assigned.

Excavations in the Athenian Agora are conducted by the American School of Classical Studies.
Primary funding is provided by the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI).