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Theatre of Philippi

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History of the city of Philippi
The city was founded in 360 BC as a colony of Thassos named Krenides, in a strategic location in an area rich in agricultural goods, timber for ship-building and precious metals. In 356 BC Philip II conquered the city, completed its fortifications and renamed it Philippi. The first phase of the ancient theatre dates to this period. The city developed into one of the most important in Macedon.

Following the Roman conquest of Macedon (148 BC), Philippi became part of the first administrative district of Macedonia, with Amphipolis as its capital. The construction of the Via Egnatia through Philippi contributed to the development of the city and its return to the forefront of events. In 42 BC the great battle which marked the end of the Roman Republic took place in the plain of Philippi. The victors, Octavian and Mark Anthony, turned the city into a Roman colony (Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis), settled by Roman veterans.

In 49-50 AD, Paul the Apostle established the first Christian church on European soil at Philippi.

The 2nd c. AD was a prosperous time for Philippi, as can be seen from the glorious buildings adorning the city, including the renovated theatre.

In the Early Christian period the city grew into a major urban centre of Greek character and a sacred site of Christian pilgrimage.

The earthquake of the 7th c. AD, combined with barbarian incursions, led to the shrinking of the city, whose inhabitants moved to the acropolis from the 8th to the 15th c. AD. Following the Ottoman conquest, the city was abandoned.

Ancient Theatre of Philippi, building phases

The elements preserved from the first phase, contemporary with the city walls and dated to the time of Philip II, are the retaining walls of the cavea and parodoi and part of the retaining wall of the ramp leading to the east parodos. The stage building was wooden. In the 1st-2nd c. AD the theatre assumed a typical Roman form with the covering of the parodoi, the extension of the seats up to them and the construction of new walls for the parodoi to bear the great loads of the retaining walls. The stage building had three storeys on the south and two on the north, on the side of the orchestra. The north façade had seven niches and five doorways. On the south front, the lower stoa consists of seven spaces communicating via arched doorways. The south side of the stoa pillars was faced with two rows of marble slabs carved in relief. On the lower row were depicted Maenads and a male figure, probably King Lycourgos of Thrace. The upper row of slabs was decorated with satyr masks, ritual fruitbowls, animals sacred to Dionysus, etc. During the next Roman phase, in the 2nd-3rd c. AD, the theatre was converted into an arena by introducing several alterations, such as the demolition of the logeion, the raising of the hyposcenium to the level of the orchestra, which thus became larger and circular in shape, the removal of the first two rows of seats of the cavea, and the construction of a stone balustrade and railings to protect the spectators. A subterranean space under the demolished logeion served for the introduction of wild beasts to the arena. The addition of the epitheatre increased the capacity of the theatre. On the arch of the west parodos were carved reliefs of Nemesis, Ares and Nike, deities connected to gladiatorial combat and wild beast hunts. In the late 3rd c. AD the two buttress arches were built, transferring the load of the east retaining wall to the adjacent wall. According to the excavation data, the theatre ceased to function as a performance area in the late 4th – early 5th c. AD. In Early Christian and Early Byzantine times (5th-6th c. AD), the stoa of the stage and the wider area of the theatre were converted into workshops. Following the destruction of the stage building by fire, probably connected to the great earthquake which destroyed the city of Philippi in the late 6th – early 7th c. AD, the theatre began to be systematically robbed of stone.

History of excavations and reconstruction work

The first excavations were undertaken by the French School of Archaeology from 1921 to 1937. In 1957-1962 the Greek Archaeological Service carried out excavation and temporary restoration work in order to make the theatre functional. The 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (EPKA) undertook preliminary excavations. Excavation and restoration work was carried out from 1994 to 2000, originally with funding from the “Monuments – Performance Areas” programme of the European Commission, and continuing under the 2nd Community Support Framework. During this time, the east retaining wall of the cavea was restored and reconstructed, followed by the reconstruction of the two buttress arches.

Excavation and restoration work has been in progress from 2001 to the present, late 2008. The project is the responsibility of the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE), funded by the 3rd Community Support Fund under the supervision of a scientific committee, headed by Haido Koukouli-Chryssanthaki in 2001-2004 and Zisis Bonias from 2005 onwards. As part of the TDPEAE project, restoration-reconstruction work on the Theatre of Philippi has continued on the stage building, staircases, parodoi, orchestra, epitheatre, paved court and the final phase, on the west retaining wall of the cavea. The section of the east wall of the city adjoining the theatre has also been excavated and cleaned. The excavation and reconstruction programme was completed at the end of 2008, and only the reconstruction of the cavea remains.

Zisis Bonias
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Ancient Theatre of Philippi

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The theatre was originally built in the reign of Philip II. In the 1st-2nd c. AD the theatre assumed a typical Roman form, with the covering of the parodoi and extension of the seats. In the next Roman phase, during the 2nd-3rd c. AD, the theatre was converted into an arena by introducing several alterations, such as the demolition of the logeion, the widening of the orchestra, the removal of the first two rows of seats of the cavea, and the construction of a stone balustrade to protect the spectators.

Images - Plans

The French School of Archaeology holds photographic documentation of the excavation work carried out by the French excavators in the years 1921-1937. There is also full photographic documentation of the excavation and first reconstruction interventions by the 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities during the period 1974-2000, which can be found in the photographic archives of both the Archaeological Museum of Kavala and the Archaeological Museum of Philippi. There is also abundant photographic documentation of the excavation and reconstruction work carried out during the eight-year period 2001-2008, when the Ancient Theatre of Philippi was a Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE) project. The topographical drawings of the entire theatre formed the subject of Maria Boliariti’s 1993 dissertation entitled “The Theatre of Philippi”, undertaken in the School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The most recent publications (1987-1999) of Α.Ε.Μ.Θ. (Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace), and the restoration-reconstruction studies of different parts of the monument by Georgios Karaderos, contain drawings (plans, elevations and sections) of the stage building, the staircases, the parodoi, the orchestra, the epitheatre, the east retaining wall of the cavea and the east section of the east wall, the work of both the researcher himself and the draughtsman Haralambos Romanidis. The latter is responsible for the drawings and documentation of the different parts of the monument and the wider area of the theatre at the beginning and the end of the excavation seasons, and the existing state of the monument before the consolidation-reconstruction work. His drawings (plans, elevations and sections on a scale of 1:50 and 1:20) are housed in the archives of the bureau of the projects “Promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi, Intervention Phase II” and “Restoration – Promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi, Intervention Phase III”. The study by Konstantinos Zambas and his colleagues entitled “Restoration of the Retaining Walls of the West Side of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi”, in the framework of the TDPEAE project for the promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi, under the supervision of the Scientific Committee, contains a record of the existing state of the retaining walls of the west side of the theatre (parodos, west retaining wall and north section of the latter), and drawings on a scale of 1:20 were prepared (plans, elevations and sections). Record forms were prepared for the marbles scattered on the ground and the excavation finds, comprising axonometric drawings of the objects in 1:10 scale, photographs and a table of their geometric characteristics and state of preservation. Finally, the French School of Archaeology provided the 1:200 topographical map of sites around the ancient theatre, by Lionel Fadin.

Documentation - Bibliography

General information on the ancient city of Philippi : L. Hezey- H. Daumet‚ Mission archaéologique de Macédoine‚ Paris 1876. p. 470. P. Collart‚ Philippes‚ Paris 1937. P. Lemerle‚ Philippes et la Macédoine Orientale à l’ époque chrétienne et byzantine‚ Paris 1945. Δ. Λαζαρίδης, Οι Φίλιπποι, Thessaloniki 1956. A . R. Bellinger‚ Philippi in Macedonia‚ A N S M N 11 (1964) pp. 29- 52. Δ. Λαζαρίδης, Φίλιπποι – Ρωμαϊκή Αποικία, Αρχαίες Ελληνικές Πόλεις 20, 1973. Στ. Πελεκανίδης, Οι Φίλιπποι και τα χριστιανικά μνημεία τους, Αφιέρωμα Τεσσαρακονταετίας Εταιρείας Μακεδονικών Σπουδών, Θεσσαλονίκη 1980, pp. 101- 125. F. Papazoglou‚ Le territoire de la colonie de Philippes‚ BCH 106 (1982) pp. 92-106. Χ. Μπακιρτζής, Η ημέρα μετά την καταστροφή στους Φιλίππους, in Daily Life in Byzantium, Proceedings of the First International Conference (Athens 15-17 September 1988), Athens 1989, pp. 695-710.

On Theatre : P. Belon, Les observations de pluriels singularités et choses mémorables, trouvées en Grèce, Asie Judée, Egypte, et autres pays étrangers. (1588), pp. 128-129. Cousinery, Voyage dans la Macédoine. (1831) I I, p. 29. G . Perrot, “Daton, Neapolis, les ruines de Philippes”, RA I I, (1860), p. 72. F . Chapouthier, Nemesis et Nike, BCH XLVIII, (1924), pp. 278- 302. F . Chapouthier, Un troisième bas relief du theâtre de Philippes‚ BCH XLIX, (1925), pp. 239-244. P. Collart‚ Le theâtre de Philippes‚ BCH 52 (1928), pp. 74-124. J. Roger, “L’enceinte basse de Philippes”, BCH 62, 1938, pp. 20-37.

For modern excavations and reconstruction works, cf. Δημ. Λαζαρίδης, Α. Δ. 16 (1960), p. 219. Δημ. Λαζαρίδης, Α. Δ. 17 (1961-62) : Χρονικά, p. 244. Δημ. Λαζαρίδης, Α. Δ. 18 (1963) : Χρονικά, p. 256. Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, Α. Δ. 30 (1975) : Χρονικά, p. 284. Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, Α. Δ. 31 (1976) : Χρονικά, p. 299-301. Β. Πούλιος, «Ανασκαφή ανάμεσα στο θέατρο και το ανατολικό τείχος, στο χώρο Β, στον περιφερικό διάδρομο του Β’ ρωμαϊκού διαζώματος….», Α. Δ. 41 (1986) : Χρονικά, p. 176-177. Χρ. Σαμίου – Γ. Αθανασιάδης, «Αρχαιολογικές και αναστηλωτικές εργασίες στο αρχαίο θέατρο των Φιλίππων», ΑΕΜΘ 1 (1987), pp. 353 – 362. Π. Θεοδωρίδης, «Μελέτη για τη στερέωση και τη μερική αποκατάσταση των κτισμάτων μεταξύ θεάτρου και τείχους των Φιλίππων», March 1990 (a copy of the study is held by the 18th EPKA of Kavala). Μπολιαρίτη Μαρία, Dissertation, «Το θέατρο των Φιλίππων», 1993, School of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, under the supervision of Asst. Prof. G. Karadedos (The result of this work is the topographical mapping of the entire theatre). Χ. Λαλένης, «Εορταί Φιλίππων-Θάσου. Το αρχαίο δράμα, Προσωπική Μαρτυρία», Kavala 1994. Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη – Χ. Μπακιρτζής, «Φίλιπποι», 1995, p. 23. Γ. Καραδέδος – Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, «Θέατρο Φιλίππων: Αναστηλωτικές εργασίες», ΑΕΜΘ 13, (1999), p. 87-107. Γ. Καραδέδος – Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, «Θέατρο Φιλίππων 2000-2001», ΑΕΜΘ 15, (2001), pp. 83-97 and 99-109. Γ. Καραδέδος – Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, «Αναστηλωτικές Εργασίες στο Αρχαίο Θέατρο των Φιλίππων», in Αποκατάσταση-Επανάχρηση Μνημείων και Ιστορικών Κτηρίων στη Βόρεια Ελλάδα, Εκδόσεις Έργον I V, 2001, vol. I, pp. 17-39. Χ. Κουκούλη-Χρυσανθάκη, «Εκπαιδευτικό Πρόγραμμα στο αρχαίο θέατρο Φιλίππων – ενημερωτικό υλικό για τους εκπαιδευτικούς», Τ. Δ. Π. Ε. Α. Ε. Έργο Ανάδειξης Αρχαίου Θεάτρου Φιλίππων, Krinides, Kavala, 2003. Κ. Στυλιανίδης, Αν. Σέξτος, Κ. Ζάμπας, «Στατική αναστήλωση του τόξου της δυτικής παρόδου του αρχαίου θεάτρου Φιλίππων», ΕΤΕΠΑΜ, 1st Panhellenic Reconstruction Conference, Thessaloniki, 14-17 June 2006, pp. 30-32, (implementation overseen by K. Zambas). Ζ. Μπόνιας, «Το έργο της Επιτροπής Ανάδειξης του Αρχαίου Θεάτρου Φιλίππων», in Παρουσίαση του Έργου Επιστημονικών Επιτροπών Αναστήλωσης, Συντήρησης και Ανάδειξης Μνημείων του Ταμείου Διαχείρισης Πιστώσεων για την Εκτέλεση Αρχαιολογικών Έργων, Ministry of Culture, Athens, 2006.

Location

Ancient Theatre of Philippi, Krinides, Municipality of Philippi, Kavala Prefecture.

Dating

The ancient theatre of Philippi is a very important monument. Its modern form is the result of successive building alterations, representing major historical phases of the city of Philippi. Late Classical Phase (4th century BC). The original phase of the theatre, contemporary with the city walls, dates from the time of Philip II. The retaining walls of the cavea and parodoi are preserved, along with part of the retaining wall of the ramp leading to the east parodos. The stage building of the Late Classical – Hellenistic phase was probably wooden, which is why no trace of it remains. Roman Phase I (1st-2nd c. AD). In the context of a radical reconstruction, the theatre acquired a typical Roman form while still preserving features of its Greek layout. The seats were extended above the parodoi, which were covered with vaulted roofs. The heavy loads of the retaining walls were transferred to the new parodos walls, which were reinforced with sturdy pillars at their ends. At the same time the stage building was constructed, with three storeys on the south side, a high logeion and two storeys on the north side facing the orchestra. It was accessed by ramps and two staircases. The façade facing the orchestra had seven niches and five doorways, leading to a corridor running the length of the stage building. On the south section, on a lower level, there is a stoa with archways forming seven spaces which communicate via arched doorways. The front of the stoa is faced with marble slabs carved in relief, depicting Maenads and a male figure, probably King Lycourgos of Thrace. Roman Phase II (arena phase, 2nd-3rd c. AD). The theatre was converted into an arena after the appropriate modifications, such as the demolition of the logeion, the raising of the hyposcenium floor to the level of the orchestra, making it larger and circular in shape, the removal of the first two tiers of seats of the cavea, and the construction of a stone balustrade and railings to protect the spectators, without, however, making drastic alterations to the stage building. The epitheatre was built during this phase, increasing the capacity of the theatre. A subterranean room under the site of the demolished logeion served for the introduction of wild beasts to the arena. On the arch of the west parodos were carved reliefs of Nemesis, Ares and Nike, protective deities of gladiatorial combat and wild beast hunts. Roman Phase III (late 3rd – early 4th c. AD). Two buttress arches were built, perhaps a short time apart, in the SE corner of the cavea, transferring the load of the east retaining wall to the adjacent city wall, which was repaired during the same period in order to repel the first barbarian incursions. According to the excavation data, the theatre ceased to function as a performance area in the late 4th – early 5th c. AD. Phases IV and V, Early Christian and Early Byzantine times (5th-6th c. AD). Phase IV. The stoa on the south side of the stage building was converted into workshops, its archways blocked with mud walls. Following the destruction of the stage building by fire, probably connected to the great earthquake which destroyed the city of Philippi in the late 6th – early 7th c. AD, the theatre began to be systematically robbed of stone. Phase V. The construction of new buildings, houses and workshop installations continued, occupying the stoa of the stage building and the paved court to the south, and also extending southeast along the wall and in the area north of the epitheatre. Ottoman Phase. A few mud walls and the cobbled road linking Kavala to Drama at the turn of the century date from the period of Turkish rule.

General Description of Monument

The Ancient Theatre of Philippi lies at the east end of the ancient city, against the fortification wall, with which it forms an indissoluble unit, while its cavea is dug out of the rock of Orvilos Hill. The carefully-constructed east retaining wall of the cavea collapsed following the fall of the great supporting buttress arch. A large number of rocks from the retaining wall and voussoirs of the great arch were discovered during the course of the excavations. In the time of Philip II, the theatre had a horseshoe-shaped orchestra, with a semicircular gutter carved into the bedrock to drain the rainwater from the parodoi; this was discovered inside the later Roman duct. The perimetric Roman duct ran into another drain forming part of the city drainage network and running towards the east wall, probably into a ditch. During the arena phase and the subsequent Late Roman period, in the late 3rd – early 4th century AD, a deep, four-sided room was excavated under the south part of the orchestra, for the introduction of wild beasts to the arena. The Late Classical stage building was wooden and has not survived, although excavations have revealed the post-holes for the large wooden foundation posts. Important features of the Roman Phase I (1st-2nd c. AD) have come to light in the south stoa of the stage building, such as the staircase with marble steps, thresholds and earth floors. The arches of the stoa doorway and arcades have been destroyed. The south side of the stoa was reconstructed with the aid of architectural members found either fallen in situ or built into the walls of the Early Christian workshops. The first row of reliefs depicts Maenads and the legendary King of Thrace Lycourgos, while the second bears masks, vessels and animals. The staircases are preserved in relatively good condition. A significant proportion of the marble steps has been preserved at their lower ends, while traces of their built infrastructure are clearly visible higher up, allowing them to be repaired and restored. In the east parodos was revealed the foundation bed of the south wall, carved into the bedrock. Although robbed of its stones up to a certain height, the south wall of the west parodos provides a clear picture of the shape of the parodos. The marble doorstep and south jamb of the east entrance of the west parodos are preserved in situ. In Roman Phase II (2nd-3rd c. AD), during the conversion of the theatre into an arena, relief images of an armoured Ares and Nike were carved on the upper section of the south jamb. On its north and east side was carved a dedicatory inscription referring to the wild beast hunts of the 3rd c. AD. The epitheatre, an addition of the Roman Phase II (2nd-3rd c. AD), was fully revealed: the outline (north back wall) and the 15 inner communicating rooms, and the floors of the latter. The modern layout of the cavea is the result of the first reconstruction interventions by D. Lazaridis following the uncovering of the theatre, to serve the needs of the “Philippi – Thassos Festival” established in 1959. The architectural members of the lower part of the cavea have been reconstructed by approximation, although their original location has not been identified. Most of the cavea has seats and staircases of undressed stone covered by cement plaster. The passageway divides the cavea into two sections, each subdivided into eight cunei (wedge-shaped sections). The lower section has 10 tiers of seats, while the upper is thought to have had 10-12 tiers. The west retaining wall of the cavea is founded on the natural bedrock and follows its slope. The façade of the retaining wall has 17 courses of stone blocks of varying lengths and with curved faces, built on blocks of roughly equal height. The marble blocks of the west wall found in situ were cracked and chipped. The south end of the wall was missing many of the courses of blocks. Approximately midway along its length (total length: 25.5 m) was the greatest outward shift: 0.38m. at the 9th marble block of the 15th course. The carefully-built façade only occupies part of the thickness of the retaining wall, forming the visible face. Behind the buttress-wall is another, built of very roughly-dressed stone blocks. This wall only has a façade on the outer side, while at the back of the retaining wall the blocks project irregularly, indicating a tendency to twist inwards. There is probably a third wall of undressed or roughly-dressed stones within the bulk of the retaining wall, set into the second wall. The space between the walls is filled with rough stones of varying size and mud, to join them and make the retaining wall act as a single mass of stone. The retaining wall of the west side of the theatre is completed by its north branch, which buttresses the north sections of the cavea. The structure of the north branch is similar to that of the west, and the facing stones interlock at the corner. When the wall was built, a gap was left at the level of the rock corresponding to the mouth of a duct running north to south.

The reconstruction programme of the ancient theatre of Philippi was inaugurated in the framework of the 2nd Community Support Fund with the following works: the reconstruction of the east retaining wall of the cavea; the restoration of the small buttress arch; the partial restoration of the large buttress arch with ancient material and only two voussoirs of new material. The reconstruction work subsequently continued, with funding from the 3rd CSF and with the inclusion of the Theatre of Philippi as a Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE) project, as follows: On the stage building, the south face of the north wall of the stoa was conserved and partially restored with brick and stone; the north face of the same wall was also pointed and rebuilt to a low height. The transverse walls of the stoa chambers were conserved and restored. The restoration and reconstruction of some of the pillars supporting the arcade was completed. The arched doorways were rebuilt with brick. Part of the walls supported by the arches was also rebuilt. Copies of the original facing slabs were placed on the pillars of the south stoa, together with the surviving cornices. The slabs and cornices of the two corner pillars were restored to their full height, to give an impression of the limits of the stoa and support the springers of the restored arches. To give a satisfactory idea of the layout of the façade of the monument, the walls behind the pillars which had lost their facing slabs were also reconstructed. Simplified copies, bearing only the surrounding moulding without relief decoration, replaced the slabs of the 6th and 7th columns from the west, which were not found. The two identified cornices were conserved and replaced in their original positions. Copies, made of the same cast material used in the restorations, were placed on the remaining pillars. The walls of the north façade of the stage building were restored: the surviving sides were pointed and rebuilt. The earth floors of the first Roman phase were restored. In the orchestra, where the subterranean area of the arena was roofed with a metal structure, the drainage system was restored to full working order. The chosen solution was the construction of a new built duct which continues the ancient duct along two branches and drains rainwater away from the orchestra, under the stage and south of the organised archaeological site. On the north side of the orchestra, the ancient slabs were replaced at the correct height and the paving was restored. The marble ring around the arena was restored with the addition of new marble members, and the whole surface of the orchestra was paved. On the staircases, which are preserved in relatively good condition, the planned restoration work included pointing and rebuilding walls, not exceeding the height of the preserved inner core, restoring a limited number of marble steps, and minor restoration of the inner marble facing of the balustrades and missing sections. Restoration work on the east parodos involved the partial reconstruction of the south wall. The doorstep and south jamb, corresponding to the features preserved on the west parodos, were restored. On the west parodos, the east jamb of the doorway in the south wall was restored to make it obvious that there was a door there, while the south wall and its east end were restored with 27 new slabs to the height of the jamb.

The archway of the west parodos leading to the orchestra, consisting of 9 voussoirs in total, was restored and reconstructed. In the epitheatre, restoration work mainly focussed on the north outer wall, the transverse walls of the perimetric corridor, and the west staircase, which was preserved to a low height. However, the cavea, a functional part of the ancient theatre, is in need of immediate restoration. It underwent large-scale interventions in 1959 (D. Lazaridis), which allowed the area to be reused as a performance area but led to problems because they did not correspond to the true form of the monument. The picture of the cavea today, after 50 years of the Philippi Festival, does not match the form of the monument following the recent restoration work, and also reveals the existing dangers to visitors and spectators. Most of the cavea has seats and staircases of undressed stone coated with cement plaster, which have been subjected to significant wear, warping and bad workmanship. Widespread fractures in the cement plaster have formed an uneven surface, accelerating the disintegration of the tiers of seats and creating major difficulties for the spectators. The architectural members in the lower part of the cavea were placed there by D. Lazaridis by approximation and without their original position having been identified. The stated aims of the Scientific Committee of the ancient theatre of Philippi are the completion of the restoration, the readability, promotion and safety of the monument, the safety of visitors and spectators, and increasing the capacity of the theatre. The Committee therefore considers its first priority to be the restoration of the cavea, an action for which it is necessary to draw up a preliminary study of the cavea supported by archaeological investigations, with the following aims: To examine the formation of the cavea during its various historical phases. To record the current condition of the cavea (plans, elevations, sections, details) at a scale of 1:20, especially as regards those parts composed of ancient marble members. To recognise, document and determine the original position of architectural members, both those in situ and those belonging to the cavea which are scattered around the archaeological site of the theatre. To propose alternative solutions for the restoration of the cavea (removal of undressed stones, reconstruction of marble seats or replacement of the authentic material with a different material). Work is being carried out on the west retaining wall of the cavea, according to the approved study “Partial restoration of the retaining walls of the west side of the ancient theatre” by Konstantinos Zambas, with the aim of partially restoring the west retaining wall and its north branch, where 145 stones are to be replaced, 99 on the west retaining wall and 46 on the north branch.

Current Situation

The reconstruction programme of the ancient theatre of Philippi was inaugurated in the framework of the 2nd Community Support Fund with the following works: the reconstruction of the east retaining wall of the cavea; the restoration of the small buttress arch; the partial restoration of the large buttress arch with ancient material and only two voussoirs of new material. The reconstruction work subsequently continued, with funding from the 3rd CSF and with the inclusion of the Theatre of Philippi as a Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE) project, as follows: On the stage building, the south face of the north wall of the stoa was conserved and partially restored with brick and stone; the north face of the same wall was also pointed and rebuilt to a low height. The transverse walls of the stoa chambers were conserved and restored. The restoration and reconstruction of some of the pillars supporting the arcade was completed. The arched doorways were rebuilt with brick. Part of the walls supported by the arches was also rebuilt. Copies of the original facing slabs were placed on the pillars of the south stoa, together with the surviving cornices. The slabs and cornices of the two corner pillars were restored to their full height, to give an impression of the limits of the stoa and support the springers of the restored arches. To give a satisfactory idea of the layout of the façade of the monument, the walls behind the pillars which had lost their facing slabs were also reconstructed. Simplified copies, bearing only the surrounding moulding without relief decoration, replaced the slabs of the 6th and 7th column from the west, which were not found. The two identified cornices were conserved and replaced in their original positions. Copies of the same cast material used in the restorations were placed on the remaining pillars. The walls of the north façade of the stage building were restored: the surviving sides were pointed and rebuilt. The earth floors of the first Roman phase were restored. In the orchestra, where the subterranean area of the arena was roofed with a metal structure, the drainage system was restored to full working order. The chosen solution was the construction of a new built duct which continues the ancient duct along two branches and drains rainwater away from the orchestra, under the stage and south of the organised archaeological site. On the north side of the orchestra, the ancient slabs were replaced at the correct height and the paving was restored. The marble ring around the arena was restored with the addition of new marble members, and the whole surface of the orchestra was paved. On the staircases, which are preserved in relatively good condition, the planned restoration work included pointing and rebuilding walls, not exceeding the height of the preserved inner core, restoring a limited number of marble steps, and minor restoration of the inner marble facing of the balustrades and missing sections. Restoration work on the east parodos involved the partial reconstruction of the south wall. The doorstep and south jamb, corresponding to the features preserved on the west parodos, were restored. On the west parodos, the east jamb of the doorway in the south wall was restored to make it obvious that there was a door there, while the south wall and its east end were restored with 27 new slabs to the height of the jamb.

The archway of the west parodos leading to the orchestra, consisting of 9 voussoirs in total, was restored and reconstructed. In the epitheatre, restoration work mainly focussed on the north outer wall, the transverse walls of the perimetric corridor, and the west staircase, which was preserved to a low height. However, the cavea, a functional part of the ancient theatre, is in need of immediate restoration. It underwent large-scale interventions in 1959 (D. Lazaridis), which allowed the area to be reused as a performance area but led to problems because they did not correspond to the true form of the monument. The picture of the cavea today, after 50 years of the Philippi Festival, does not match the form of the monument following the recent restoration work, and also reveals the existing dangers to visitors and spectators. Most of the cavea has seats and staircases of undressed stone coated with cement plaster, which have been subjected to significant wear, warping and bad workmanship. Widespread fractures in the cement plaster have formed an uneven surface, accelerating the disintegration of the tiers of seats and creating major difficulties for the spectators. The architectural members in the lower part of the cavea were placed there by D. Lazaridis by approximation and without their original position having been identified. The stated aims of the Scientific Committee of the ancient theatre of Philippi are the completion of the restoration, the readability, promotion and safety of the monument, the safety of visitors and spectators, and increasing the capacity of the theatre. The Committee therefore considers its first priority to be the restoration of the cavea, an action for which it is necessary to draw up a preliminary study of the cavea supported by archaeological investigations, with the following aims: To examine the formation of the cavea during its various historical phases. To record the current condition of the cavea (ground plans, elevations, sections, details) at a scale of 1:20, especially as regards those parts composed of ancient marble members. To recognise, document and determine the original position of architectural members, both those in situ and those belonging to the cavea which are scattered around the archaeological site of the theatre. To propose alternative solutions for the restoration of the cavea (removal of undressed stones, reconstruction of marble seats or replacement of the authentic material with a different material). Work is being carried out on the west retaining wall of the cavea, according to the approved study “Partial Restoration of the Retaining Walls of the West Side of the Ancient Theatre” by Konstantinos Zambas, with the aim of partially restoring the west retaining wall and its north branch, where 145 stones are to be replaced, 99 on the west retaining wall and 46 on the north branch.

Excavations - Interventions

The Ancient Theatre of Philippi was systematically robbed of stone after the destruction of the city, probably by earthquake, in the late 6th c. AD. From the 15th to the late 19th century, the ruins of the city attracted the attention of European travellers. In 1546 P. Belon found the theatre almost intact. In the late 19th century the French archaeologist G. Perrot remarked on how far the stone-robbing had progressed. In 1861, Napoleon III’s scientific mission, consisting of archaeologist L. Heuzey and architect H. Daumet, studied the ancient city and the theatre. Daumet identified the retaining wall of the theatre dating from the time of Philip II. The first systematic excavations in the theatre were undertaken by the French School of Archaeology, beginning under G. Daux in 1921 and continued by Charbonneaux, Chapouthier and P. Collart until 1927. The French excavations continued until 1937. Interrupted by the Second World War, investigations were resumed in 1950 by the Greek Archaeological Service under Ephor of Antiquities D. Lazaridis, who undertook small-scale excavations and reconstructions in order for the first plays to be performed at the theatre. There were temporary interventions to serve the needs of the Philippi-Thassos Festival established in 1959. The 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Kavala subsequently undertook preliminary excavations during the years 1974-1993, followed by a programme including excavations and conservation, restoration and reconstruction studies until 2000. Systematic reconstruction work at the Theatre of Philippi began following the announcement of a competition by the European Commission, in the framework of the “Reinforcement of Experimental Plans for the Preservation of European Architectural Heritage” programme, with funding from the EC programme “Monuments – Performance Areas”. Excavation and reconstruction work continued under the 2nd CSF project “Conservation – Promotion of the Monuments of Philippi”. More specifically, parallel to the excavations of the stage building, the parodoi, the staircases, the area of the west proscenium, the area of the east retaining wall of the cavea and the east branch of the east enceinte at the point adjoining the theatre, in 1997 work was completed on the partial restoration – reconstruction of the east retaining wall of the cavea and the restoration of the small buttress arch. In 1998 reconstruction work was carried out on the large buttress arch of the east retaining wall of the cavea. In 2000 began the preliminary work on the partial restoration – reconstruction of the stage buildings and the parodos walls, which continued into the next phase of the project. The establishment of the Scientific Committee in 2001 and the inclusion of the project “Promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi, Intervention Phase II” and then the project “Restoration – Promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Philippi, Intervention Phase III” in the projects of the Credit Management Fund for Archaeological Works (TDPEAE) with funding from the 3rd CSF, offers the interdisciplinary scientific collaboration and technical support in various areas required to meet the multiple problems of consolidation, reconstruction and promotion of the modern use of a monument with a major cultural and educational part to play.

Permitted Uses

Visit, Tour. Basic performance area of the Philippi Festival.

History of Modern Uses

The Ancient Theatre of Philippi attracts a large number of visitors, as it is one of the most important monuments of the archaeological site, and its structure is the most complete and perhaps the most comprehensible to the average visitor. This is the only functional ancient outdoor theatre of East Macedonia and Thrace. It is the basic performance area of the “Philippi – Thassos Festival”, which was established in 1959 and is the second most important ancient drama festival after the “Epidaurus Festival”. The festival is organized by the Municipality of Kavala, with performances by the National Theatre of Northern Greece and other state theatre companies.

Further Information

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Latitude

41.013398°

Longitude

24.286287°

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