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Theater of Lefkas

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The theatre is located on the “Koulmos” hill in the Municipality of Lefkada. On the northeastern slope of the central height of “Koulmos” lies an amphitheatric descending cavity ending in an elongated level area, identified as the site of the ancient theatre.

The city of Leukas was founded as a Corinthian colony in the late 7th c. BC. Due to its strategic position at the northeast end of the island, which allowed the control of maritime routes in the Ionian Sea, it became an important commercial and economic centre of the ancient world. The imposing city walls run along the crest of the three continuous heights, comprising Koulmos Hill, and end at the sea. Abundant ancient building material, as well as ancient building foundations, are visible in the Koulmos area, while sections of the urban plan, laid out in a grid according to the Hippodamian system, on the planar and coastal parts of the city have been excavated.

Information on the ancient theatre of the city is limited, as the latter is not mentioned in any ancient sources. In the early 19th century, an excavation was carried out in the theatre area over a few days, under the direction of German archaeologist Ε. Κrüge, a collaborator of W. Dörpfeld. The results of the excavation were not published in detail, but from the excavation diaries and drawings we know that the carved bedrock of the orchestra was revealed under deep infill. The overlying paving was not discovered, as it had probably been removed and used as building material.

Between the orchestra and the cavea, a rainwater drainage channel was found. The front two rows of seats in the cavea, made of limestone, were also revealed, but the excavator noted that stone-robbing had occurred there too. The theatre may have only had stone seats in the front rows of the cavea, while the rest may have been wooden. Only a few stones of the foundations of the stage were preserved, and the orientation of the proscenium was simply noted.

North of the stage, the ground was particularly steep, as evidenced by the existence of retaining walls, whose masonry revealed two building phases. The excavation provided no evidence for the dating of the theatre, which W. Dörpfeld places generally in the pre-Roman era. The ruins of the theatre which had been revealed were filled in again at the end of the excavation.

Vivian Staikou
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Theatre of Lefkas

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

The theatre is located at the “Koulmos” site of Lefkada Municipality, Lefkada Prefecture. On the northeast slope of the central height of “Koulmos” is an amphitheatric sloping cavity ending in an elongated level area, identified as the site of the ancient theatre. Our information on the ancient theatre of the city is limited, as it is not mentioned in ancient sources. In the early 19th century the German archaeologist Ε. Κrüge excavated sections of the orchestra, stage and proscenium.

Images - Plans

There are only sketches from the excavation carried out by Ε. Κrüge in the early 19th century.

Documentation - Bibliography

– W. Dörpfeld, Alt Ithaka, 1927, 156-7,267

– M. Fiedler, Topographie von Leukas in der Antike, Magisterarbeit am Fachbereich Altertumswissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin 1992, 61-62 (unpublished).

– Γ. Πλιάκου, Νέα στοιχεία για το αρχαίο θέατρο της Λευκάδας. Μια τοπογραφική προσέγγιση. Ηπειρωτικά χρονικά, vol. 32, pp. 37-42, Ioannina 1997.

Location

The theatre is located at the “Koulmos” site of Lefkada Municipality, Lefkada Prefecture.

Dating

There is no secure dating evidence. W. Dörpfeld places it generally in the pre-Roman era.

General Description of Monument

The city of Lefkas was founded as a Corinthian colony in the late 7th c. BC. Due to its strategic position at the northeast end of the island, which allowed it to control the maritime routes in the Ionian Sea, it became an important commercial and economic centre of the ancient world. The imposing city walls run along the crest of the three continuous heights comprising Koulmos Hill and end at the sea. Abundant ancient building material, as well as ancient building foundations, are visible in the Koulmos area, while in the part of the city on the plain and coast have been excavated sections of the urban plan, laid out in a grid according to the Hippodamian system. On the northeast slope of the central height is an amphitheatric sloping cavity ending in an elongated level area, identified as the site of the ancient theatre. Our information on the ancient theatre of the city is limited, as it is not mentioned anywhere in ancient sources. In the early 19th century an excavation was carried out in the theatre area over a few days, under the direction of German archaeologist Ε. Κrüge, a collaborator of W. Dörpfeld. The results of the excavation were not published in detail, but from the excavation diaries and drawings we know that the carved bedrock of the orchestra was revealed under deep infill. The overlying paving was not discovered, as it had probably been removed and used as building material. Between the orchestra and the cavea was found a rainwater drainage channel. The front two rows of seats in the cavea, made of limestone, were also revealed, but the excavator noted that stone-robbing had occurred there too. The theatre may have only had stone seats in the front rows of the cavea, while the rest may have been wooden. Only a few stones of the foundations of the stage were preserved, and the orientation of the proscenium was simply noted. North of the stage, the ground was particularly steep, as evidenced by the existence of retaining walls, whose masonry revealed two building phases. The excavation provided no evidence for the dating of the theatre, which W. Dörpfeld places generally in pre-Roman times. The ruins of the theatre which had been revealed were filled in again at the end of the excavation.

Current Situation

The theatre covers an estimated total area of approximately 5,000 square metres. Today the area is occupied by an olive grove on a series of stepped terraces with drystone walls. Apart from the foundations of a wall built of large limestone blocks, perhaps a retaining wall, no other ancient stones are visible here in situ. The walls of a modern agricultural storehouse, founded at the juncture of the cavea and the orchestra, are built of ancient dressed masonry, obviously brought here from a relatively short distance away. Scattered ancient building material is found in a modern retaining wall and on the slopes north of the levelled area. Only a short distance from the cavea of the theatre, staircases cut into the rock and sloping ramps lead to the top of the hill, where the foundations of a rectangular temple-like building are visible.

Excavations - Interventions

In the early 19th century a brief excavation was carried out over a few days, under the direction of German archaeologist Ε. Κrüge, a collaborator of W. Dörpfeld.

Permitted Uses

History of Modern Uses

Further Information

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Latitude

38.810043°

Longitude

20.707694°

NameDateAmount (€)
Diazoma Association100.00
Dimitris Fatouros100.00
Total
€200.00
Balance
€200.00
DescriptionBudgetTargetRemarks
Restoration study0.0050.000.00