Progress of Works

Geophysical surveys
Excavations
Restoration Studies
Expropriations
Restoration Works
€1,160.00IN DONATIONS

Fotini - Magdalini Boukoura: €20.00

A.&G. Tsatsinas: €500.00

ΑΔΕΛΦΟΤΗΤΑ ΜΕΛΙΓΓΙΩΤΩΝ: €100.00

Konstantinos Pappas: €100.00

Konstantinos Katsanakis: €100.00

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Ancient Theater of Dodona

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The theater of Dodona is built at the SW edge of hilly strip running through the  valley with the same name, within the limits of the Municipality de Dodona and oriented to the SE. It was necessary to build a monumental theater of a capacity of 15,000-17,000 viewers in a sanctuary, which far from being important for the region of Epirus, it had gradually acquired a nationwide character. The theater’s construction is linked with the reign of King Pyrrhus (297-272 BC) and the organization of the Naia Games that were probably established during his rule.

Theatre construction consisting of earthen-laid orchestra around which are found preserved a stone-made underground drainage pipe for rainwater, limestone-covered cavea sectioned by two concentric corridors-tiers in three parts and a rectangular stone-made stage of elaborate isodomic masonry.

Name of monument

Theater of Dodona

Category

Theater

Brief description

Theatre construction consisting of earthen-laid orchestra around which are found preserved a stone-made underground drainage pipe for rainwater, limestone-covered cavea sectioned by two concentric corridors-tiers in three parts and a rectangular stone-made stage of elaborate isodomic masonry.

Images - plans

There is documentation with photographs and plans of the excavation and restoration works that took place from 1959 to 2000 in the archives of the 12th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. There is also complete documentation of digital photographies and architectural plans of the entire monument in the Scientific Committee of Dodona – Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Projects (TDPEAE), which provides the basic background for the theater’s study titled “Fixing and restoration of the ancient theater of Dodona,” completed by Architektoniki Ltd., Grammatopoulos- Panousakis, with G. Antoniou as a special partner-advisor. The topographic background of the study was prepared by the E. Vozikis.

Documentation - Bibliography

General information on the Sanctuary of Dodona here:

  • Carapanos C., Dodone et ses ruins, Paris 1878.

For the excavation research and dating of the theater see:

  • Dakaris S., The Sanctuary of Dodona, AD 16 (1960).

For the construction phases of the theater see:

  • Dakaris S., Dodona, Archaeological Guide, 1986.

For the stage building see:

  • Vlachopoulou-Oikonomou, A., Rulers and top tiles with decorations from Epirus. Type: “lotus flower-propellers”, Ioannina 1986.

For the theater, see:

  • Katsikoudis N., The theater in ancient Epirus, “Dodona: History and Archaeology,” Volume 29 (2000).

For Dodona’s Naia Games see:

  • Cabanes, Les concours des Naia de Dodone, Nikephoros 1, 1988, 49-84.

For the theater’s architectural documentation see:

  1. Harisis B., “Restoration Study of Dodona Theater’s Retaining Walls,” Ioannina,1964.
  2. Harisis B., “Dodona. Architectural considerations and tracing representations,” Epirotic calendar 2006.

G. Antoniou, “Consolidation and restoration study of the ancient theater of Dodona,” Athens, 2007

Location

Archaeological site of Dodona, Municipality of Dodona, Prefecture of Ioannina

Dating

The theater’s construction is linked with the reign of King Pyrrhus (297-272 BC) and the organization of the Naia Games that were probably established during his rule.

General description of Monument

The theater of Dodona is built at the SW edge of hilly strip running through the valley with the same name, within the limits of the Municipality de Dodona and oriented to the SE. It was necessary to build a monumental theater of a capacity of 15,000-17,000 viewers in a sanctuary, which far from being important for the region of Epirus, it had gradually acquired a nationwide character. The theater’s construction is linked with the reign of King Pyrrhus (297-272 BC) and the organization of the Naia Games that were probably established during his rule.
First construction period: Beginning of the 3rd century BC
Ten stairways divide the semicircular cavea into nine tiers. Two concentric pathways (diazomata) divide the cavea into three parts of which the upper part was the epitheater. The theater has a total of 55 rows of seats, of which 19 are in the lower part, 16 in the middle and 20 in the upper. The epitheater is divided with stairways into 18 tiers while the two lower parts into 9 tiers. In that period they placed the first row of throne-like curved seats (proedria), for VIP spectators. All of these seats were made of a single block of stone and initially they were 0.387 m. high, while the seats in the epitheater were 0.391 m. high.
Spectators could ascent to the first diazoma through the orchestra by climbing one of the 10 stairways, while the middle diazoma was accessed through external staircases constructed in isodomic masonry at the ends of the retaining wall.
The orchestra (with a diameter of 18.72 m.) was formed in the carved rock on earthen floor and in the floor plan completed a full circle. Preserved in the center stands the base of the altar of Dionysus, the Thymeli. It was surrounded by a stone-made circular drainage channel for rain water which was led under the floor of the stage building to the karst landscape of the region.
The rectangular two-story stage, according to S.. Dakaris, was constructed in the same isodomic masonry style and had a colonnade at the open front side and two square-shaped rooms on the ends, the paraskenia. On the southern wall of the stage a door-like opening arched on the top lead to a Doric portico with 13 octagonal columns on its facade.
Second construction period
After the disastrous Aetolian campaign of 219 BC, the stage building acquired features of Hellenistic typology to meet the new conditions of the theatrical act. A stone-made proscenium with 18 Ionic pilasters was constructed in the façade to connect the two additional smaller rectangular compartments at the ends of the stage building.
This is the time when the two monumental propyla are made, flanking the lanes with twin entrances and Ionic pilasters. Slopes are also formed with retaining walls in isodomic masonry at the NE of the theater to hold the Aetolian backfill and at the SW for the construction of the stadium. This configuration resulted in burying part of the external staircases, removing steps from the parodos entrance and the reconstruction of retaining walls at the edges. Spectators could access the second diazoma from the west via the stairways and the stadium’s steps and from the east through an oblique staircase at the terrace.
Third construction period
According to the excavator some repair works that had taken place at the stage building before the Augustan era were associated with the Roman destruction of 167 BC. Traces show that a shoddy rubble-made wall in front of the stage of had replaced some of the pilasters of the proscenium.
Fourth construction period
When the theater was converted into an arena, during the reign of Augustus, the first rows of seats were removed together with the proedria seats and a wall was raised to protect spectators. The wall cut off the entire proscenium of the stage building and joined its southern wall, forming an elliptical arena of 33.10 m. of diameter. This created two triangular compartments at the ends of the stage where animals (bulls and boars) were kept for the games. The floor of the orchestra rose when an artificial embankment covered the Thymeli, the culvert and the remaining parts of the proscenium.

Current situation

The current form of the theater is due to extensive restoration works that took place in the 60s and 70s.

Excavations - Interventions

The theater site has been excavated by architects/archaeologists Karapanos (1875), Evangelides (1955) and Dakaris (1959). In 1960, in order to allow the theater to host ancient drama performances, Dakaris temporary repositioned the seats on the two lower sections of the cavea, restored the spars of the parapet in the middle diazoma and repaired the steps of the ten stairways. Prior to this intervention and because of a landslide that had brought down the seats, the whole image of the theater was giving the impression of a violent destruction.
Followingly, the embankments around the theater were removed and in 1961 architect V. Harisis conducted a study in order to support the retaining walls. From 1961 to 1974, some restoration works took place mainly in the eastern and western perimeter of the retaining wall of the theater, the towers supporting the facade of the cavea, the retaining wall of the terrace of the west passage, the seats of the stadium, and the epitheater. Sculptor S. Triantis welded the Ionic pilasters at the entrances of the two lanes and the pilasters of the stone-made proscenium, while he filled with new voussoirs the top of the arched gateway of the stage building. Restoration works were also made on the terrace in front of the eastern retaining tower of the theater.
Following the inclusion of the project in the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Projects and the creation of Dodona’s Scientific Committee, the newest restoration project was launched at Dodona Theater.
Extensive surface maintenance works in the entire first and second diazoma of the cavea have taken place. The main objective of the works was to bond all, if possible, of the detached fragments or parts of the body of the seats in the tiers and the filling of large cracks. Restoration work was also performed on the walls of the arena within the stage building and in the far eastern tier of the first diazoma of the theater’s cavea. The staircase at the end and the corresponding part of the retaining wall were also restored.
The poor condition and the the problematic nature of building materials, extensive displacements of architectural members, significant deviations from the appropriate geometry of a theater, the risk of losing characteristic features of the monument due to decay and the wrong impression and aesthetic understanding of the current situation, led to the pilot restoration of the far eastern tier of the first diazoma and the the southeastern retaining wall.
TIER 1A
The seats and part of their foundation were dismantled to allow excavating investigation and documentation up until the natural rock. Restored stones from the base were selected, while parts of detached seat bases were also selected for reuse and others that could not be reused were sorted out. Earthy material was removed from the foundation of the tier up the natural rock, parts of natural rock that had collapsed or been broken were preserved, a moisturized diaphragm and special geotextile was placed and the infrastructure for the attachment of stone seats and aisles was established with the reconstruction of undisturbed and stationary autonomous masonry. Also, a drainage pipe was put in place.
Followingly, ancient bearings and ancient pathway slabs were maintained, welded and filled, new bearings and slabs were sculpted out of limestone and positioned where the original ones were missing.

Permitted uses

The current form of the ancient theater is the result of extensive restoration work that took place during the ’60s and the ’70s

History of modern uses - Additional information

The monument belongs to the territorial jurisdiction of the 12th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and as a restoration project underway it is included in the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Projects.

Copyrights

Ministry of Culture & Sports /  12th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Jurisdiction

Ministry of Culture & Sports /  12th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Latitude

39.546491°

Longitude

20.787833°

Google Earth

39.546491,20.787833

NameDateAmount (€)
Fotini - Magdalini Boukoura20.00
A.&G. Tsatsinas500.00
ΑΔΕΛΦΟΤΗΤΑ ΜΕΛΙΓΓΙΩΤΩΝ100.00
Konstantinos Pappas100.00
Konstantinos Katsanakis100.00
Diazoma Association100.00
A&B Gymnasium 1st Gymnasium of Chalandri 90.00
Aggeliki Staya50.00
A Hight school of Chalandri 3rd Class100.00
Total
€1.160.00
Balance
€1.160.00