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Geophysical surveys
Excavations
Restoration Studies
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Restoration Works
€400.00IN DONATIONS

Stefanos Tsolakidis: €100.00

Association of 'Apantahou Katochianon': €200.00

VAN ASSCHE FRANK KLOOSTERLAN: €100.00

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Theater of ancient Oeniades

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The Theater of ancient Oeniadae is located at the Trikardos site, in the Municipal Department of Katochi, Holy Town of Messolonghi Municipality, Aetoloacarnania Prefecture. Two building phases have been identified in the Theatre of Oeniades, mainly corresponding to restructuring of the stage building and, to a lesser extent, other interventions in the rest of the theater.

Phase Ι: In the mid-4th c. BC, the theater functioned with the aid of a single-storey rectangular stage building with five large openings in its façade, formed by four pillars bearing Doric capitals with abacus and echinus. The openings between the pillars were filled with paintings used as scenic backdrops for the performances.

Phase ΙΙ (first half of the 3rd c. BC): To the façade of the original stage was added a proscenium (logeion), which now became the main structural element. Two small parascenia were also built east and west of the stage, framing the protruding proscenium. Adjoining the front of the pillars supporting the flat proscenium roof were semi-columns with Ionic capitals. The original rectangular stage building was raised to form a second storey. On the upper band of the architrave of the entablature appears the choregic inscription (ΤΗ)Ν ΟΡΧΗΣΤ(ΡΑΝ) [(TE)N ORCHEST(RAN)], referring to the construction of the orchestra. At the same time as the interventions to the façade were carried out, the older orchestra was also modified with the addition of a stone surround and the construction of a rainwater drainage duct in the space between the cavea and the surround.

The cavea of the theater, carved out of the grey local limestone, is larger than a semicircle and consists of 28 rows of seats, of which only 19 remain. The southwest end of the cavea is formed of an artificial earthen bank on which were set rows of stone seats, some of which are preserved, with inscriptions, in the lower part of the cuneus. The spectators reached their seats via nine staircases which divided the cavea into 11 cunei, without a passageway. The southeast and northwest ends of the cavea were completed by retaining walls, one built of polygonal masonry and the other of irregular coursed masonry.

Of the other architectural elements of the theater, the orchestra is preserved, 16.14 m. in diameter, with a hard floor of beaten earth and encircled by a surround 0.46 m. wide, which is preserved in excellent condition. Between the orchestra and the first row of seats runs a drainage duct covered with slabs, which formed a sort of carved passageway around the orchestra providing access to the cavea seats.

The stage building is preserved in poor condition; only the foundations of the proscenium survive, to a total length of 21.89 m., and those of the parascenia, each measuring 5 m. x 5.62 m.

The Theater of Oeniades, like other ancient theaters, presents certain unique features, such as the fact that the axes of the cavea and staircases do not meet in the centre of the orchestra, and that the outer wall of the stage building is not parallel to the ancient road past the area. Of the cavea, only 19 rows of seats survive.

The first systematic excavation of the Theater of Oeniades was undertaken by American archaeologist Benjamin Powell, in the second half of December 1900. The excavation work revealed the stage, the orchestra and about half of the cavea. In May of the following year (1901), the stone slabs carved with emancipatory inscriptions in the southwest part of the cavea came to light.

Afterwards the site remained filled in until 1987, when the 6th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Patras, through its director Dr Lazaros Kolonas, undertook to uncover it fully. During the course of this period of work, the theatre was methodically cleared, the slope of the infill on the west side of the cavea was largely restored, and six slabs covering the drainage duct around the orchestra were revealed. The new systematic excavation, study and publication of the Theater of Oeniades became possible once the relevant application by the Institut für Klassische Archäologie of the University of Vienna had been approved by the Central Archaeological Council of the Ministry of Culture. The research programme was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) of the Austrian Ministry of Culture. The work on the archaeological site, carried out by myself and Prof. Savvas Gogos, began in 1991, continued in 1992 and was substantially completed in 1993. The excavation of the theater had to be undertaken virtually from scratch, since only a few sections of the cunei remained visible. Apart from the careful cleaning of the architectural elements and the drawing of the cavea, the orchestra with the rainwater drainage duct and the stage of the theater, this work comprised section drawings of all the basic parts of the stage building, and drawings (plans, elevations and sections) of architectural members, mainly from the epistyle of the proscenium, found in various parts of the theater area. Drawings were also made of the retaining walls of the cavea and the elevations of the walls of the stage building. Finally, test trenches were opened in selected spots of the stage area, the drainage duct and the cavea, with the object of collecting supplementary pottery dating information.

The theater is open to the public, and concerts and plays are held every summer as part of the Oeniades Festival, subject to approval by the Central Archaeological Council.

L. Kolonas
Archaeologist

Ancient theaters in Aitoloakarnania

Monument Name

Theatre of Oeniades

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The ancient Theatre of Mytilene, built on the western edge of the ancient city, on the hill of Agia Kyriaki, is considered one of the greatest works of architecture of the ancient world.

Images - Plans

The theatre of ancient Oeniadae is located at the Trikardos site, in the Municipal Department of Katochi, Holy Town of Messolonghi Municipality, Aetoloacarnania Prefecture. Two building phases have been identified in the Theatre of Oeniades, mainly corresponding to restructuring of the stage building and, to a lesser extent, other interventions in the rest of the theatre.

Documentation - Bibliography
  1. B. Powell, Oeniadae II. The Theatre, AJA 8 (1904), 174-201
  2. E. Fiechter, Die Theater von Oiniadai und Neu Pleuron, Antike griechische Theaterbauten II, Stuttgart 1931 – A. v. Gerkan, Rez. Zu Friechter, Antike Theaterbauten, Oiniadai, Neu Pleuron, Gnomon IX (1933), 145ff
  3. Σ. Γώγος – Λ. Κολώνας, Περί του θεάτρου των Οινιαδών, Αρχαιογνωσία 9 (1995-96), Athens 1998, 305-311
  4. Αιτωλοακαρνανία. Αρχαία Θέατρα. Μύθοι – Θεοί – Ήρωες, Στ. Σαλάπας – Μ. Μανικάρου (eds), Εκδόσεις Ίφιτος, Agrinio 1999
  5. Π. Μάξιμος, Αρχαία ελληνικά θέατρα. 2.500 χρόνια φως και πνεύμα, Athens 2000
  6. Σ. Γώγος, Το θέατρο των Οινιαδών και η συμβολή του στην έρευνα του αρχαίου ελληνικού θεάτρου, Πρακτικά του Β΄ Διεθνούς Ιστορικού και Αρχαιολογικού Συνεδρίου Αιτωλοακαρνανίας, Αγρίνιο 29-31 Μαρτίου 2002, Vol. I, Agrinio 2004, 259-265
  7. Σ. Γώγος, Το αρχαίο θέατρο των Οινιαδών, Εκδ. Μίλητος, Αθήνα 2004
  8. Λ. Κολώνας, Οινιάδες. Θέατρο και νεώσοικοι. Οι πρόσφατες ανασκαφές, Πρακτικά Α΄ Αρχαιολογικής Συνόδου Νότιας και Δυτικής Ελλάδος (Πάτρα, 9-12 Ιουνίου 1996), ΥΠΠΟ-ΤΑΠΑ, Athens 2006, 483-492
  9. Λ. Κολώνας, Το έργο της Επιτροπής Προστασίας, Έρευνας και Ανάδειξης τριών Αρχαίων Πόλεων του Ν. Αιτωλοακαρνανίας: «Πάλαιρος, Οινιάδες, Πλευρώνα», in Έργο των Επιστημονικών Επιτροπών Αναστήλωσης, Συντήρησης και Ανάδειξης Μνημείων του TDPEAE, Athens 2006, 341-343
  10. Λ. Κολώνας, Αρχαίοι Οινιάδες, Ministry of Culture – TDPEAE, Athens 2008 (archaeological guidebook).
Location

Trikardos site, modern-day Municipal Department of Katochi, Holy Town of Messolonghi Municipality, Messolonghi Province, Aetoloacarnania Prefecture.

Dating

Two building phases have been identified in the Theatre of Oeniades, mainly corresponding to restructuring of the stage building and, to a lesser extent, other interventions in the rest of the theatre. Phase Ι: In the mid-4th c. BC, the theatre functioned with the aid of a single-storey rectangular stage building with five large openings in its façade, formed by four pillars bearing Doric capitals with abacus and echinus. The openings between the pillars were filled with paintings used as scenic backdrops for the performances. Phase ΙΙ (first half of the 3rd c. BC): To the façade of the original stage was added a proscenium (logeion), which now became the main structural element. Two small parascenia were also built east and west of the stage, framing the protruding proscenium. Adjoining the front of the pillars supporting the flat proscenium roof were semi-columns with Ionic capitals. The original rectangular stage building was raised to form a second storey. On the upper band of the architrave of the entablature appears the choregic inscription (ΤΗ)Ν ΟΡΧΗΣΤ(ΡΑΝ) [(TE)N ORCHEST(RAN)], referring to the construction of the orchestra. At the same time as the interventions to the façade were carried out, the older orchestra was also modified with the addition of a stone surround and the construction of a rainwater drainage duct in the space between the cavea and the surround.

General Description of Monument

The cavea of the theatre, carved out of the grey local limestone, is larger than a semicircle and consists of 28 rows of seats, of which only 19 remain. The southwest end of the cavea is formed of an artificial earthen bank on which were set rows of stone seats, some of which are preserved, with inscriptions, in the lower part of the cuneus. The spectators reached their seats via nine staircases which divided the cavea into 11 cunei, without a passageway. The southeast and northwest ends of the cavea were completed by retaining walls, one built of polygonal masonry and the other of irregular coursed masonry. Of the other architectural elements of the theatre, the orchestra is preserved, 16.14 m. in diameter, with a hard floor of beaten earth and encircled by a surround 0.46 m. wide, which is preserved in excellent condition. Between the orchestra and the first row of seats runs a drainage duct covered with slabs, which formed a sort of carved passageway around the orchestra providing access to the cavea seats. The stage building is preserved in poor condition; only the foundations of the proscenium survive, to a total length of 21.89 m., and those of the parascenia, each measuring 5 m. x 5,62 m. The Theatre of Oeniades, like other ancient theatres, presents certain unique features, such as the fact that the axes of the cavea and staircases do not meet in the centre of the orchestra, and that the outer wall of the stage building is not parallel to the ancient road past the area.

Current Situation

Of the cavea, only 19 rows of seats survive.

Excavations - Interventions

The first systematic excavation of the Theatre of Oeniades was undertaken by American archaeologist Benjamin Powell, in the second half of December 1900. The excavation work revealed the stage, the orchestra and about half of the cavea. In May of the following year (1901), the stone slabs carved with emancipatory inscriptions in the southwest part of the cavea came to light. The basic and probably the most important contribution of the first archaeological excavation at the turn of the 20th century was the recording, description and photographing of the state of the theatre at the time, which have helped us to identify and complete as far as possible all those architectural elements which have either not survived or are no longer in their original positions.

Afterwards the site remained filled in until 1987, when the 6th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Patras, through its director Dr Lazaros Kolonas, undertook to uncover it fully. During the course of this period of work, the theatre was methodically cleared, the slope of the infill on the west side of the cavea was largely restored, and six slabs covering the drainage duct around the orchestra were revealed. The new systematic excavation, study and publication of the Theatre of Oeniades became possible once the relevant application by the Institut für Klassische Archäologie of the University of Vienna had been approved by the Central Archaeological Council of the Ministry of Culture. The research programme was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) of the Austrian Ministry of Culture. The work on the archaeological site, carried out by myself and Prof. Savvas Gogos, began in 1991, continued in 1992 and was substantially completed in 1993. The excavation of the theatre had to be undertaken virtually from scratch, since only a few sections of the cunei remained visible. Apart from the careful cleaning of the architectural elements and the drawing of the cavea, the orchestra with the rainwater drainage duct and the stage of the theatre, this work comprised section drawings of all the basic parts of the stage building, and drawings (plans, elevations and sections) of architectural members, mainly from the epistyle of the proscenium, found in various parts of the theatre area. Drawings were also made of the retaining walls of the cavea and the elevations of the walls of the stage building. Finally, test trenches were opened in selected spots of the stage area, the drainage duct and the cavea, with the object of collecting supplementary pottery dating information.

In 2002 the Scientific Committee of the “Protection, Research and Promotion of Three Ancient Cities of Aetoloacarnania Prefecture: Pleurona – Oeniades – Palairos” project of the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE) was established. It carried out consolidation and reconstruction work on various parts of the monument (seats, retaining walls, etc.) between 2002 and 2006.

Permitted Uses

Simple visit – Concerts and plays are held here every summer as part of the Oeniades Festival, subject to approval by the Central Archaeological Council.

History of Modern Uses

Following B. Powell’s excavation, the site was almost filled in and the stage building and cavea were used as stables for various animals.

Further Information

The monument belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and the archaeological service responsible for Aetoloacarnania Prefecture (36th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Messolonghi). The publication rights following the protection, research and promotion works managed from 2002 to 2006 by the Scientific Committee of the “Protection, Research and Promotion of Three Ancient Cities of Aetoloacarnania Prefecture: Pleurona – Oeniades – Palairos” project of the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE), are held by Dr Lazaros Kolonas, Honorary General Director of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, and by the researcher of the theatre, Prof. Savvas Gogos.

Intellectual Rights

Jurisdiction

The monument belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and the archaeological service responsible for Aetoloacarnania Prefecture (36th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Messolonghi).

Latitude

38.409768°

Longitude

21.198839°

NameDateAmount (€)
Stefanos Tsolakidis100.00
Association of 'Apantahou Katochianon'200.00
VAN ASSCHE FRANK KLOOSTERLAN100.00
Total
€400.00
Balance
€400.00
DescriptionBudgetTargetRemarks
Restoration works60.000.00
Additional works10.000.0010.000.00

This amount will be used for additional operations.

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