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Ancient Theater of Gortys (small)

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The Gortys archaeological site is located in Gortyna Municipality, in Crete. The Small Theatre of Gortys, as it is known, is located next to the temple of the Pythian Apollo and is the best-preserved of all the theatres of Roman Crete. According to O. Belli the portico, measuring 76 m x 36 m, had an external colonnade measuring 88 m x 45 m. From the portico there were doors opening onto the interior of the stage (postscenium) as well as the theatre itself. Alternative access appears to have been provided by staircases along the outer sides of the stage, which probably led to the cavea over the parodoi.

The cavea had a circumference of 102 m with an outer wall 1.30 m wide. It was built of concrete faced with brickwork, but local stone was also used, the blocks joined by bronze clamps. The outer wall consisted of the arcade usual in Roman theatres. The arcades enclosed the stage building on all three sides. At the apex of the cavea was a wider entrance flanked by double buttresses, while the 10 remaining stoai were flanked by single buttresses 2.60 m wide. The cavea had an internal diameter of 31.40 m and an external diameter of approximately 50 m. There were two sections divided by a circular passageway (ambulacrum) 3 m wide, and with another passageway, along the top of the seats, 2.50 m wide. The foundations of the cavea consisted of vaulted structures, as was customary in Roman theatres.

The front of the stage (scaenae frons), 50 m long, was rather simple in structure, with four rectangular platforms on either side of the central doorway and columns in front. At the central doorway, the façade inclines inwards with another, lower platform and columns. This central entrance with two columns below its axis leads to the main chamber within the stage building, measuring 30 m x 27 m. These columns, like the other columns of the theatre, belong to the Doric order and are black and white. The columns in the portico were of granite. Marble was also used in marble inlay on the theatre walls.

In the early 20th century Taramelli conducted an extensive surface survey in the cavea area, and Colini undertook a limited excavation in the 1930s. Today the monument is being systematically excavated by the Italian School of Archaeology, which is also preparing a study on the conservation of the monument.
The archaeological site may be visited by arrangement with the competent Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Maria Bredaki
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Small Theatre of Gortys

 

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The Gortys archaeological site is located in Gortyna Municipality, in Crete. The Small Theatre of Gortys, as it is known, is located next to the temple of the Pythian Apollo and is the best-preserved of all the theatres of Roman Crete.

Images - Plans

Italian School of Archaeology at Athens.

Documentation - Bibliography

1. Α. Taramelli, AJA VI (1902), 112 ff.

2. Α. Μ. Collini, Missione Archeologica italiana a Creta, Boll.d’Arte XXX (1936), p. 547f.

3. I. F. Sanders, Roman Crete, Warminster 1982, 61-63.

4. A. di Vita, V. La Rosa & M. A. Rizzo (eds), Ancient Crete. A Hundred Years of Italian Archaeology (1884-1984), Roma 1985, 59.
5. Α. Κάντα, Φαιστός, Αγία Τριάδα, Γόρτυνα, Athens 1998, 136.

Location

The archaeological site of Gortys is located in Gortyna Municipality.

Dating

General Description of Monument

The small theatre of Gortys, as it is known, is located next to the temple of the Pythian Apollo and is the best-preserved of all the theatres of Roman Crete. According to Belli, the portico, measuring 76 m x 36 m, had an external colonnade measuring 88 m x 45 m. From the portico there were doors opening onto the postscenium as well as the theatre itself. Alternative access appears to have been provided by staircases along the outer sides of the stage, which probably led to the cavea over the parodoi. The cavea had a circumference of 102 m with an outer wall 1.30 m wide. It was built of concrete faced with brickwork, but local stone was also used, the blocks joined by bronze clamps. The outer wall consisted of the usual arcade. The arcades enclosed the stage building on all three sides. At the apex of the cavea was a wider entrance flanked by double buttresses, unlike the single buttresses, 2.60 m wide, flanking the 10 remaining stoai. The cavea had an internal diameter of 31.40 m and an external diameter of approximately 50 m. There were two sections divided by an ambulacrum 3 m wide, and with another passageway, along the top of the seats, 2.50 m wide. The foundations of the cavea consisted of vaulted structures, as was customary in Roman theatres. The front of the stage (scaenae frons), 50 m long, was rather simple in structure, with four rectangular platforms on either side of the central doorway and columns in front. At the central doorway, the façade inclines inwards with another, lower platform and columns. This central entrance with two columns below its axis leads to the main chamber of the postscenium, measuring 30 m x 27 m. These columns, like the other columns of the theatre, belong to the Doric order and are black and white. The columns in the portico were of granite. Marble was also used in marble inlay on the theatre walls.

 

Current Situation

Excavations - Interventions

In the early 20th century Taramelli conducted an extensive surface survey in the cavea area, while Colini undertook a limited excavation in the 1930s. Today the monument is being systematically excavated by the Italian School of Archaeology.

Permitted Uses

The archaeological site may be visited by arrangement.

History of Modern Uses

 

 

Latitude

35.059729°

Longitude

24.949747°