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Roman Theater of Hersonissos

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The archaeological site of Hersonissos is located in Hersonissos Municipality. At the edge of the modern town of Limenas Hersonissou, on the side nearest Heraklion, is the ancient theatre of Hersonissos, built in the 1st c. AD.

Information on the shape of the theatre is provided by O. Belli, who drew the theatre, and Sanders.

The portico was unique, having curved ends with an internal colonnade. It was 83 m long and 30 m wide. Although there was an entrance from the portico to the postscenium (the area behind the stage) and thence to the stage, the main access to the theatre was by the staircases leading to the parodoi and thence to the cavea, which had only a single zone of seats. Around the outer side of the retaining wall of the cavea ran the stoa usual in Roman theatres.

The front of the stage (scaenae frons), 43 m long, is rather plain, with a central doorway and small semicircular niches and half-columns. The central entrance leads to the postscenium, which had four columns, and from there staircases led to side-rooms and the parodos stairs.

The surviving feature of the theatre is the retaining wall of the cavea, made of concrete 0.75 m thick and approximately 3 m high. The inner diameter of the theatre is 33.25 m, while opposite are the 14 bases of the outer arches of the building, which had a minimum width of 2.00 m and a depth of 2.20 m.

The following sections of the theatre were discovered during the 1995 test excavation:

– Part of the retaining wall of the cavea, which is built of stones and concrete, faced with square brick slabs and supported by at least 10 buttresses and pillars.

– Part of a staircase – in the retaining wall of the cavea – which led to the upper rows of seats of the cavea (vomitorium).

– Part of the substrate of the seats of the cavea, consisting of earth and stones.

– Part of the rock-cut steps in its centre.

– The outer west wall of the stage and part of what is probably the parascenium.

– Part of the paved floor of the orchestra.

In 2008 a geophysics study was carried out and the ancient theatre was mapped, while minor conservation work and cleaning was undertaken by the 23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Maria Bredaki
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Roman Theatre of Hersonissos

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The archaeological site of Hersonissos is located in Hersonissos Municipality. At the edge of the modern town of Limenas Hersonissou, on the side nearest Heraklion, is the ancient theatre of Hersonissos, built in the 1st c. AD.

Images - Plans

23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Documentation - Bibliography

1. I. F. Sanders, Roman Crete, Warminster 1982, 59-61.
2. Στ. Μανδαλάκη, «Αρχαιολογικές Ειδήσεις: Νομός Ηρακλείου, Επαρχία Πεδιάδος, Χερσόνησος. Θέατρο», Κρητική Εστία Περ. Δ΄ – Vol. 7 (1999), 244-258.

Location

The archaeological site of Hersonissos is located in Hersonissos Municipality.

Dating

Built in the 1st c. AD.

 

General Description of Monument

At the edge of the modern town of Limenas Hersonissou, on the side nearest Heraklion, a turning off the main road to the left (north) leads to the ancient theatre of Hersonissos a short distance away. Information on the shape of the theatre is provided by O. Belli, who drew the theatre, and Sanders. The portico was unique, having curved ends with an internal colonnade. It was 83 m long and 30 m wide. Although there was an entrance from the portico to the postscenium (the area behind the stage) and thence to the stage, the main access to the theatre was by the staircases leading to the parodoi and thence to the cavea, which had only a single zone of seats. Around the outer side of the retaining wall of the cavea ran the stoa usual in Roman theatres. The front of the stage (scaenae frons), 43 m long, is rather plain, with a central doorway and small semicircular niches and half-columns. The central entrance leads to the postscenium, covering an area of 18 sq. m, containing four columns. From there staircases led to side rooms and thence to the parodos stairs. The basic surviving feature of the theatre is the retaining wall of the cavea, made of concrete 0.75 m thick and up to 3 m high. The inner diameter of the theatre is 33.25 m, while opposite are the 14 bases of the outer arches of the building, which had a minimum width of 2.00 m and a depth of 2.20 m.

Current Situation

Minor conservation work and cleaning by the 23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Excavations - Interventions

The following sections of the theatre were discovered during the 1995 test excavation (4 sections were made, at the north and south ends of the stage wall, in the orchestra of the theatre and in the centre of the cavea respectively): Part of the retaining wall of the cavea, 0.90 m wide and preserved height up to 2 m. It is built of stones and concrete and faced with square brick slabs. It is supported by at least 10 buttresses and pillars. Part of a staircase – in the retaining wall of the cavea – which led to the upper rows of seats of the cavea (vomitorium). Part of the substrate of the seats of the cavea, consisting of earth and stones. Part of the rock-cut steps in the centre of the cavea – their flat surface is covered with small slab-shaped stones and concrete (according to Xanthoudides [Archaeologikon Deltion 1918], the stone seating covering the steps was removed in the early 20th century). The outer west wall of the stage and part of what is probably the parascenium. Part of the paved floor of the orchestra, although the floor was not completely paved. In the centre the floor is made of earth and concrete. In 2008 a geophysics study was carried out and the ancient theatre was mapped. A limited test excavation was carried out in 1995 by the 23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and archaeologist Stella Mandalaki. In 2008 the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) carried out a geophysics study and mapped the ancient theatre, following the collaboration of the Municipality of Hersonissos and Mayor Spyros Danellis with the 23rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities under the responsibility of its Director Μ. Bredaki.

Permitted Uses

 

Latitude

35.318933°

Longitude

25.38934°

NameDateAmount (€)
Diazoma Association100.00
Stefanos Tsolakidis100.00
Total
€200.00
Balance
€200.00

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