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Theatre of ancient Gitana

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The Theatre of ancient Gitana is located in Gitana, Municipality of Philiates, Thesprotia Prefecture.

It was built in the mid-3rd century BC, a time of increased building activity in Epirus, and destroyed by the Romans in 167 BC.

The theatre is built on the lower level of the settlement, outside the walls, and is protected by a rampart. Further natural protection is afforded by the River Kalamas, towards which it is oriented.

It seems that the theatre was originally built in stone, mainly using white limestone. The orchestra forms a full circle which contains an inscribed square and is intersected by the proscenium. The cavea consists of 28 tiers of seats with two passageways, while there may also have been an epitheatre. Four staircases have been revealed, dividing the cavea into five cunei to which must be added a further two – now half-ruined – at the outer edges of the cavea.

The theatre seats are made of carefully-dressed limestone, and many bear incised inscriptions with names on the front side. The retaining walls which supported the cavea have not been fully uncovered.

The stage is a rectangular stone building measuring 15.50 x 5.50 m. Inside it was discovered a colonnade consisting of seven rectangular pillars, which would have supported the roof of the stage building. In the centre of the stage is a doorway through which the actors would have entered, while the floor is made of rubble and beaten earth.

The façade of the stage forms a proscenium whose stylobate (base) is preserved to a length of 15.50 m. and an average width of 0.50 m. There were square parascenia on either side of the stage.

Intense erosion by the nearby River Kalamas causes serious problems to the theatre area and makes it imperative to take the necessary measures. When the Kalamas floods its banks, water covers the stage, the orchestra and the front tiers of seats. The circulation of underground water, which contributes to the erosion of the already crumbling limestone bedrock of the area, has caused the whole cavea to slope to the west, shifting the seats from their original position.

Following the completion of the work to promote the archaeological site of Gitana, in June 2009, the theatre will be incorporated in the visitors’ route.

Theodora Lazou
Historian, Archaeologist

Fred Boissonnas in Gitana

A project by the Arsakeia Schools in Ioannina (Epirus).

Monument Name

Theatre of Ancient Gitana

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The theatre is built on the lower level of the settlement, outside the walls, and is protected by a rampart. Further natural protection is afforded by the River Kalamas, towards which it is oriented.

Images - Plans

There are full photographical records and drawings of the excavated section of the monument.

Documentation - Bibliography

1. Hammond N. G. L., Epirus, London 1967, pp. 83-86 2. Δάκαρης Σ. Ι., Θεσπρωτία, Αθήνα 1972, pp. 108-111, 120-122, 150, 179, 182-183, 185-186, 204 3. Πρέκα Αλεξανδρή Κ., Α.Δ. 52 (1997), Χρονικά, pp. 614-617 4. Preka-Alexandri K., “Recent Excavations in Ancient Gitani”, L’Illyrie méridionale et l’Epire dans l’ antiquité IIΙ, 1999, pp.167-169 5. Ρήγινος Γεώργιος, et al., Μελέτη ανάδειξης αρχαιολογικού χώρου Γιτάνης, Unpublished paper, Igoumenitsa 2003 6. Σάρρας Γ. Γιάννης, Η Θεσπρωτία δια μέσου των αιώνων 40.000 π.Χ. μέχρι σήμερα, Athens 1998, vol. 1, pp. 98-104, 117, 125, 129, 133-135, 139-146, 159-168, 175, 177, 214-225, 231-241.

Location

Gitana, Municipality of Philiates, Thesprotia Prefecture.

Dating

The theatre is dated, fairly securely, to the mid-3rd century BC, a time of increased building activity in Epirus, especially under the rule of Pyrrhus, and a time of prosperity for Gitana, as indicated by the current excavation data. The theatre was destroyed by the Romans in 167 BC.

 

General Description of Monument

The ancient Theatre of Gitana is built on the lower level of the settlement, outside the walls, and is protected by a rampart. Further natural protection is afforded by the River Kalamas, towards which it is oriented.

It appears that the theatre was originally stone-built, as no traces of earlier temporary wooden structures have been observed. The main building material was white limestone.

Orchestra. It forms a full circle which contains an inscribed square and is intersected by the proscenium. Cavea. This has a maximum diameter of 65 m. and a minimum diameter of 24 m. It consists of 28 tiers of seats with two passageways, while there may also have been an epitheatre. Four staircases have been revealed, dividing the cavea into five cunei to which must be added a further two – now half-ruined – at the outer edges of the cavea.

The theatre seats are made of carefully-dressed, rectangular limestone blocks, while some in the central cuneus have been carved directly out of the conglomerate limestone bedrock. Many seats bear incised inscriptions with names on the front side. The retaining walls which supported the cavea have not been fully uncovered. They are preserved to a length of 14 m. and are approximately 1 m. thick, constructed according to the polygonal system. Stage building. The stage is a rectangular stone building measuring 15.50 x 5.50 m. The walls are constructed according to the polygonal system. Inside was discovered a colonnade consisting of seven rectangular pillars which would have supported the roof of the stage building. The pillars are of the slab type particularly common in Epirus and western Greece in general. In roughly the centre of the south wall of the stage is a 1.20 m. doorway through which the actors would have entered. The stage floor is made of rubble and beaten earth. The façade of the stage forms a proscenium. The stylobate (base) of the proscenium, consisting of 15 limestone slabs, is preserved to a length of 15.50 m. and an average width of 0.50 m. The slabs had sockets for inserting the tenons of 12 monolithic pilasters which supported a Doric entablature with a stone epistyle.
There must have been square parascenia opening onto the two narrow sides of the stage, as indicated by the remains of wall sections.

Current Situation

The greatest problem facing the theatre is flooding by the nearby River Kalamas, when water covers the stage, the orchestra and the front tiers of seats. There are obvious traces of damage to the inscriptions, particularly those on the lowest tiers. An embankment wall to protect the theatre from flooding has been constructed in the context of the site promotion work. Furthermore, the circulation of underground water, which contributes to the erosion of the already crumbling limestone bedrock of the area, has caused the whole cavea to slope to the west, shifting the seats from their original position. The cavea has come to light in fairly good condition as regards the state of preservation of the stone material, with the exception of the outermost cunei and the retaining walls. Of the stage building, on the contrary, only the foundations remain.

Excavations - Interventions

The first reference to the ancient ruins of Gitana is by N. G. Hammond, who visited the site in the 1930s. In the late 1960s, in the context of a research programme by the Athens Centre for Ekistics, the ancient site was mapped by the Army Geographical Service with extensive topographical mapping of the visible monuments within the settlement. In 1998 photogrammetric mapping of the theatre was carried out by the 8th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in collaboration with the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments (DAAM). Finally, in 2001 the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) drew up a geological-geotechnical report and a geophysics study in the archaeological site and the wider area of ancient Gitana, in order to examine the impact of the intense erosion caused by the nearby River Kalamas and implement the necessary protection measures. Excavations in the archaeological site of Gitana became systematic in 1995, under the direction of K. Preka. Systematic excavations in the theatre have brought to light part of the cavea, the orchestra and the stage. The systematic excavation of the theatre continued with interruptions in the years 2006 – 2008, for brief periods not exceeding 15 days a year, while in 2006 K. Preka was granted a permit to study the inscriptions on the theatre seats, the architecture and the moveable finds.

Permitted Uses

The theatre is included in the visitors’ tour route in the context of the work on the promotion of the archaeological site of Gitana, carried out by the 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in the framework of the 3rd CSF and completed in June 2009.

 

 

History of Modern Uses

Simple visit by agreement with the 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Further Information

The monument belongs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture / 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Following the work on the promotion of the archaeological site of Gitana, carried out by the 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in the framework of the 3rd CSF and completed in June 2009, the theatre is included in the visitors’ tour route. Next to the theatre there is a viewing point with an information sign.

Intellectual Rights

Ministry of Culture / 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Jurisdiction

Ministry of Culture / 32nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

 

Latitude

39.5694549681°

Longitude

20.2991100348°

Altitude
0
NameDateAmount (€)
Fenia Rougouni29/03/201810.00
Kalomoira Gavrielatou27/03/201810.00
Stefanos Tsolakidis100.00
Christina Evangelinidou100.00
Alexandra Radou150.00
Arsakeia Schools in Ioannina300.00
Diazoma Association400.00
DEI - Terna SA2.000.00
Total
€3.070.00
Balance
€3.070.00
DescriptionBudgetTargetRemarks
Operations for monument's revelation0.00
Assignment of restoration research30.000.00
Additional operations - researches10.000.0010.000.00
  • In September 2009, the President of Diazoma Mr Stavros Benos held a working visit to the Ancient Theatre of Gitana, where he met with local agencies. (see here)
  • ‘DIAZOMA’ has opened a “piggy bank” (an electronic bank account) for the ancient theatre of Gitana. (see here)
  • In May 2012 the planning contract was signed between the Ministry of Culture and the Region of Epirus for the documentation and protection of the ancient theatre of Gitana.
  • Funding worth €100,000 was provided by the region of Epirus. The object of the programme was the implementation of the necessary works for the documentation and immediate preliminary protection measures at the ancient theatre, works which would contribute to the collection of the necessary archaeological data, allowing for a future restoration plan of the monument (link).
  • ‘Diazoma’ used the “piggy bank” money to assign on Friday 11 January 2013 the contract for the project ‘Exploration of 3D Laser Scanner potential in monument documentation: Implementation of 3D digital model of the ancient theatre at Gitana’ to Democritus university of Thrace.
  • In February 2013 the amendment to the Planning Contract was signed, along with an increase to the initial budget by €30,000.00, in order to incorporate the required restoration plan assignments into the funding programme. The object includes the following units:
    • Implementation of temporary shoring of the western wall of the fortification above the theatre.
    • Clearing vegetation.
    • Checking and completing the current land and architectural survey.
    • Collection – classification and documentation of dispersed architectural elements.
    • Excavation research.
    • Planning survey.
    • Photographic documentation.
    • Conservation – protection works.
    • Collection of inscription moulds.
    • Work site – technical infrastructure.
    • Geotechnical design.
    • Chemical – mineral analyses.
    • Architectural design.
    • Structural design. (link)
  • The assignment of the following designs was completed by the competent Ephorate of Antiquities:
    • architectural survey and documentation of the skene structure, the orchestra, and the central kerkides of the ancient theatre of Gitana, to Ms Irene Doudoumi, architect – engineer.
    • fixing, restoration, and promotion design for the skene structure, the orchestra, the central kerkides of ancient theatre of Gitana, to Mr Konstantinos Zambas, civil engineer,
    • geophysical – technogeological plan of ancient theatre of Gitana, to the Institute of Geology & Mineral Exploration (IGMEM),
    • structural design of the ancient theatre of Gitana in Thesprotia, to Mr Gerasimos Thomas, civil engineer,
    • reconstruction research plan for the skene structure of the ancient theatre of Gitana, to Mr Efstratios Pavlidis, architect – engineer,
  • In October 2014 the above plans were approved by the C.A.C.
  • In September 2018 ‘DIAZOMA’ assigned the contract for the work ‘Production via the MIND THE GAP programme of a special map for the blind for archaeological sites of: Ginata, b. Kassopi, c. Nikopolis, d. Amvrakias’ to the Company ‘DALKAFOUKI OIKOS LTD’, with funding from the Pavlos & Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation.
  • The implementation of the work ‘Basic Infrastructure and Works for the Restoration and promotion of the Ancient Theatre of Gitana (Phase A)’ is under way, with €1,200,000,00 of funding from the Epirus 2014-2020 ROP – ‘Cultural route of the theatres of ancient Epirus’ (CURRENTLY)
  • A new design for phase B of the restoration works was submitted to the CAC: the plan for the architectural survey-documentation and restoration of the plinths and seats along the edges of the ancient theatre. In January 2020 the above plan was approved by the C.A.C. (CURRENTLY)
  • The budget increase for the project for the works of phase B is under way. (MOVING FORWARD)

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