Progress of Works

Geophysical surveys
Excavations
Restoration Studies
Expropriations
Restoration Works
€420.00IN DONATIONS

Athanasios Savvopoulos: €20.00

Diazoma Association: €100.00

Stefanos Tsolakidis: €100.00

Gymnasium of Meliki: €200.00

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Theatre of ancient Aigai (Vergina)

Description
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The theatre of the ancient city of Aigai is located in Vergina, Imathia Prefecture. The theatre and the neighbouring palace form a single building complex designed and built in the second half of the 4th century BC. Based on recent dating of the palace and its corresponding features, the theatre must have been built at the end of Philip’s reign; he was murdered here in 336 BC. The theatre was never completed and was abandoned in the mid-2nd century BC, when the city of Aigai was destroyed.
The theatre is a short distance north of the palace of Aigai – Vergina. The monument had few stone parts from the outset, while a large part of the cavea was earthen. The parodoi, the simple stage building and the first tier of seats with the circular well of the orchestra are all built of stone.

The east side of the cavea is formed by the low natural slope, while the west side appears to have been an artificial construction, probably made by filling in the area. This explains the uneven length and half-finished construction of the aisles of the cunei. These technical works were obviously never completed and the theatre remained unfinished.

The stage building is in the simplest known form, with two adjacent areas linked by an open stoa. At the centre of the orchestra is preserved the base of the thymele, the theatre altar in honour of Dionysos.

The cavea and orchestra have been laid out along three centres, while the parodoi are constructed in different ways: the east parodos consists of two limestone walls, while the west, of which only the foundation survives, must have included only the large retaining wall.

The monument is in a good state of preservation, given that its has few stone parts and an earthen cavea. However, the limestone of the built sections is constantly subject to erosion and requires conservation. The theatre area is open to the public but cannot be used due to the lack of certain basic practical requirements (electricity, water supply, drainage).

Stella Drougou
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Theatre of Ancient Aigai (Vergina)

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The theatre of the ancient city of Aigai is located in Vergina, Imathia Prefecture. The theatre and the neighbouring palace form a single building complex designed and built in the second half of the 4th century BC.

Images - Plans

There are full drawing and photographical records of the monument (Vergina excavation archive, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).

Documentation - Bibliography

1. Μ. Ανδρόνικος, Οι βασιλικοί τάφοι και άλλες αρχαιότητες
2. Σ. Δρούγου, ΠΑΕ 1982

3. Σ. Δρούγου, ΑΕΜΘ 3, 1989, 13 ff.

4. S. Drougou, AM 112, 1997, 281 ff.

5. Σ. Δρούγου, το Αρχαίο Θέατρο της Βεργίνας 2006

6. Σ. Δρούγου, Χρ. Σαάτσογλου-Παλιαδέλη, 1999, 18 ff.

7. Σ. Δρούγου, Χρ. Σαάτσογλου-Παλιαδέλη (2006, 126 ff).

Location

Vergina, Municipality of Vergina, Imathia Prefecture

Dating

The theatre and the neighbouring palace form a single building complex designed and built in the second half of the 4th century BC. Based on recent dating of the palace and its corresponding features, the theatre must have been built at the end of Philip’s reign; he was murdered here in 336 BC. The theatre was never completed and was abandoned in the mid-2nd century BC, when the city of Aigai was destroyed.

General Description of Monument

The theatre is a short distance north of the palace of Aigai – Vergina. The monument had few stone parts from the outset, while a large part of the cavea was earthen. The parodoi, the simple stage building and the first tier of seats with the circular well of the orchestra are all built of stone. The east side of the cavea is formed by the low natural slope, while the west side appears to have been an artificial construction, probably made by filling in the area. This explains the uneven length and half-finished construction of the aisles of the cunei. These technical works were obviously never completed and the theatre remained unfinished. The stage building is in the simplest known form, with two adjacent areas linked by an open stoa. At the centre of the orchestra is preserved the base of the thymele, the theatre altar in honour of Dionysos. The cavea and orchestra have been laid out along three centres, while the parodoi are constructed in different ways: the east parodos consists of two limestone walls, while the west, of which only the foundation survives, must have included only the large retaining wall.

Current Situation

The monument is in a good state of preservation, given that its has few stone parts and an earthen cavea. However, the limestone of the built sections is constantly subject to erosion and requires conservation (see relevant study).

Excavations - Interventions

The Theatre of Aigai was first discovered and excavated in 1982-3. Excavations were repeated in a small area in 1989. In 2000 work was carried out to support the east limestone wall of the east parodos and drain away the rainwater. At the same time began the removal of the cavea infill, in order to reveal the original ancient surface. Although this work was not completed, the absence of stone or other built seats except in the first row was confirmed. The monument is cleared annually as part of the excavation by the University of Thessaloniki, and an information sign was erected in 2000. In 2000 an integrated study for the preservation of the stone, the rainwater drainage and the general organisation of the area, in order to allow visitors to the monument, was submitted to the Central Archaeological Council (Ministry of Culture). The study was not implemented due to lack of funds, while work on the promotion of the neighbouring palace means that the future course of the study for the promotion of the theatre is uncertain.

Permitted Uses

Today, despite the simplicity of the monument with its few stone parts, the theatre cannot be used due to the lack of basic practical requirements (electricity, water supply, drainage). These conditions will probably be fulfilled by the relevant work on the palace, when all that will remain is the necessary consolidation of the stone parts of the theatre. Today the site is open to the public and its use is a basic requirement of the archaeological site. The historical significance of the monument, in addition to the fact that this is one of the oldest theatres in Greece, justify the need to promote it, alongside another important issue, that of the role of the theatre in other parts of Greece outside Attica.

History of Modern Uses

No use except visits and, exceptionally, theatre games by the children of Vergina Primary School.

Further Information

The monument has been excavated by the archaeological team of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Μ. Andronikos – S. Drougou), is open to the public and is under the control of the Ministry of Culture (17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities). Closed in 2008-9 due to work on the palace.

Intellectual Rights

Ministry of Culture (17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)

Jurisdiction

Ministry of Culture (17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)

Latitude

40.479112°

Longitude

22.321944°

Altitude
0
NameDateAmount (€)
Athanasios Savvopoulos20.00
Diazoma Association100.00
Stefanos Tsolakidis100.00
Gymnasium of Meliki200.00
Total
€420.00
Balance
€420.00
DescriptionBudgetTargetRemarks
Theatre's restoration (koilon and parodes) and conservation as it is described at the sponsorship file400.000.00
Works for the revelation and the promotion of the monument50.000.0050.000.00