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Ancient Theatre of Gythio

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The ancient theatre of Gythio is located on the eastern foothills of the butte of the ancient citadel, in the northern part of the modern settlement of Gythio and dates back to Roman times (2nd century AD). In 1891, the monument was excavated by Andrea Skia. Only then did the whole theatre become apparent, except for the rear part of the stage.

The theatre was made of domestic off-white marble, except for the porous retaining walls in the northern and southern parts of the hollow. According to Skia, the hollow included twelve rows of seats, without a tier and five vertical corridors.

The stage of the theatre was 12 meters long and 5 meters wide. Behind the stage and on a higher level, there were seven small almost square chambers, accessible by two stairs cases forming a gallery. The first row of seats intended for the officials, known as the presidency, has backrests, a special support system for the official’s backs.

Name of the Monument

Ancient Theatre of Gythio

Category

Theatre

Short description

The theatre of Gythio was built in the 2nd century A.D., and was excavated in 1891. In total, it had twelve rows of seats and five vertical corridors. In the first row of seats there were the presidencies. In the northern and southern parts there were porous retaining walls. Behind the stage there was a gallery. From the stage, only the foundations of the front wall are preserved, while the backstage has not been saved.

Position

The ancient theatre of Gythio is located at the foot of the hill of the citadel, in the northern part of the city of Gythio and near the agora area of the city of early Roman times.

This can be viewed on Google Earth

Dating

Roman times (2nd century AD).

General description of the monument

The theatre was excavated by Andreas Skia in the 19th century after the purchase of the plot of land by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

The theatre was made of domestic off-white marble, and according to Skia, there were twelve rows of seats without a tier and five vertical corridors. In the first row of seats there were seats with backrests. In the northern and southern parts of the theatre, there were porous retaining walls. The stage of the theatre was 12 meters long and 5 meters wide. Behind the stage and on a higher level, there were seven small almost square chambers.

Current situation

The theatre is not entirely visible: part of the southern passageway is covered by deposits, the stage building is visible only on its western façade and part of it is situated outside the enclosure. The hollow of the theatre is preserved in a relatively good state, although some of the seats are chipped in various places, while some of the higher preserved parts of the hollow have been moved from their original position.

Surveys – Interventions

The monument was excavated in 1891 by Andrea Skia. With funding from the Archaeological society in 1963, the following were carried out : maintenance and configuration work, support and related works, as well as the replacement of the seats.  Work was also done on the stairways. Today, the conservation status of the monument allows maintenance and partial restoration, for which the relevant studies are required (2009).

Permitted uses

It is possible to organize events in the seating area which is the space occupied by the orchestra of the theatre.

History of modern uses

From 2013 onwards, cultural events take place in the theatre of Gythio, in collaboration with the Lakonia Ephorate of Antiquity and the Municipality of Eastern Mani. Such is the celebration of the European Cultural Heritage Days (last weekend of September each year), which includes theatrical performances, music and other events. During the summer season the site is also granted for the organization of theatrical and musical events hosted by the Municipality of Eastern Mani.

Additional Information

Ephorate of Antiquities of Laconia

Latitude

36Ο45΄48’Ν

Longitude

22Ο33’53’Ε

Altitude

206 m.

Documentation – Bibliography
  • Φ. Βερσάκης ,«Η σκηνή του εν Γυθείω ρωμαϊκού θεάτρου», Αρχαιολογική Εφημερίς, Αθήνα 1912
  • Ι. Βιγγοπούλου, Ευγ. Δρακοπούλου, Λ. Δρούλια, κ.α., Μάνη πολιτιστικό οδοιπορικό, 1993-1994. Περιηγητές στη Μάνη 15ος-19ος αι., Κέντρο Νεοελληνικών Ερευνών Εθνικού Ιδρύματος Ερευνών Υπουργείου Πολιτισμού, Ελληνικός Οργανισμός Τουρισμού, Ιστορικό Εθνολογικό Μουσείο Μάνης, Πύργος Κρανάκη, Γύθειο, Ιούλιος 1993-Δεκέμβριος 1994.
  • Π. Γιαννακόπουλος,Το ΓύθειονΑρχαιολογική και Ιστορική Άποψις από της Προϊστορικής Εποχής μέχρι του Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου, Αθήναι 1966, σ. 100,110, 151.
  • Α. Ν. Σκιάς, «Περί του εν Γυθείω θεάτρου και του παρ’ αυτώ αρχαίου κτιρίου»,ΠΑΕ, 1891, σελ. 71-90.
  • Buckler, “The Myth of the Moveable Skenai”, American Journal of Archeology, (1986), σ. 431-2
  • Eliopoulou-Rogan, Mani, History of Monuments, Athens, 1973, σ. 58-59
  • Greenhalge, Eliopoulos, Ed, Deep into Mani, journey the Southern Tip of Greece. London, Βoston, 1985, σ. 19-21, 30-35, 44-46