New Ancient Theater Comes to Light

The presence of the ancient theater, long-suspected by archaeologists, has finally been confirmed through excavations

A previously unknown theater of Ancient Thouria, one of the most important cities of western Messinia which was identified last July by archaeologist Dr Xeni Arapogianni, has finally been unearthed on the last day of excavations at the site this year. The theater is made of white limestone and initial estimates date it as being from the early Hellenistic period.

The Ephorate of Antiquities which has been excavating the area under auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens,revealed the strong retaining wall of the hollow of the theater which is 12.30 meters long and 4 meters high, a very well preserved double wall belonging to the left corridor as well as another wall with buttresses running parallel to the previous one. In addition, part of the orchestra pit, a row of well-preserved stone figurines, the first step leading to the seats and a corridor for the movement of spectators around the orchestra were also uncovered.

An equally important finding is the large rectangular stone duct for the drainage of rainwater which encircles the orchestra. Several stone architectural elements and figurines were also found.

“For many years I was looking for this theater. There have been old excavations and testimonies from 1820.” said Dr. Arapogianni. From her standpoint, she overlooks the hills of an olive grove which she has passed many times. A little corner of stone plinths was what raised her suspicions. “The geophysical study by Dr. Lazarus Polymenakos gave us a lot of evidence that there was a theater in the area, as we suspected. Based on these and other archaeological data, we began research in a previously unexplored space. The very first section revealed the retaining wall of the theater. Advancing our search, at the depth of 3 meters we felt we were on the right track. The second exploration was carried out on an area we believed to be an auditorium because of its physiognomy. That was part of the orchestra where we found the intact figurines. The corridor and the conductor’s platform confirmed what we were looking for.”

The double wall of the left passage leads to the theater. As for the second wall, “We don’t know yet where it belongs. This is another large building. Everything is speculation. It does, however, belong to another building.” stresses Arapogianni. “In the third section we found that the passage leads to a bevelled stone, on which a large rectangular pedestal stands where inscriptions or statues stood.”

“This theater has a diameter of over 15 meters” she says, adding that the discovery is “a major event for the ancient history of Messinia and an important new chapter in the science of archaeology.”

The excavations are supported by the Karelia Foundation, Achilles Konstantakopoulos, the municipality, the Messinian Amphictyony and the Peloponnese Regional Authority. The excavations are now over for the season and the findings have been covered to preserve them over the winter.

“The discovery is ‘a major event for the ancient history of Messinia and an important new chapter in the science of archaeology.’”

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