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Theater of Nea Pleurona

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Nea Pleurona is located approximately 5 km northwest of the town of Messolonghi and occupies two hills at the southwest end of the Arakynthos range (Zygos). The locals call the fortifications of Nea Pleurona the “Castle of Kyra (Lady) Rini”. The theatre adjoins the west side of the fortifications of Nea Pleurona, approximately halfway along their length and about 130 m. from the main gate. This is one of the most interesting theatres in Aetolia, due to both the unique view of the lowland coastal zone west of Messolonghi and an important structural feature it presents. Specifically, the proscenium (logeion) has been positioned in front of the wall and in contact with it, the cavea faces west, while the functionality of the theatre stage is complemented by the adjoining Tower 3 and the wings of the wall on both sides. From this tower, and presumably the underground / ground floor area of the proscenium, it was possible to access a small exit gateway on the north side of the wall.
Tower 3, measuring 6.50 m. x 3.30 m., and preserved to a height of approximately 5.70 m., must have been an ancillary area of the stage and parascenia, perhaps serving as the actors’ dressing rooms. The parodoi of the theatre, 2.40 m. wide, consisted of corridors delimited by the retaining walls of the cavea and the small walls running parallel to the inner side of the fortification wall. The excavation of the north parodos proved that the parodos entrances to the theatre had arched lintels. It also uncovered the supporting bases of the jambs, measuring 0.53 m. x 0.35 m. and 0.48 m. x 0.45 m., parts of the jambs themselves and five arch stones.

The orchestra of the theatre is 11.60 m. in diameter and is made of earth laid on the natural ground, without a surrounding rainwater drainage duct. Rainwater collected in a small duct running from the south end of the orchestra and out through the fortification wall. The cavea is laid out on the hillside. From the structural remains it would seem that, apart from the 15 rows visible today, it had a total of 25 to 30 rows of seats. Some seats are carved out of the bedrock. The cavea contains four staircases, two adjoining the side retaining walls (to north and south) and two central ones dividing it into three cunei.

Although the theatre has not been fully excavated, it appears that above the tenth row of seats there must have been a passageway dividing the lower cavea from the upper, or epitheatre. Traces of the staircase leading to the epitheatre are visible today along the central axis of the theatre, above the tenth row of seats.

In some places the seats are made of rectangular dressed blocks of stone, while in others, particularly the two lowest rows, in the centre of the theatre, they are carved out of the bedrock. At three points along the front of the first row of seats, one in the centre and two towards the central staircases, chisel marks are visible where the seats of honour stood (corresponding to one per cuneus). Shallow cuts are also preserved on the upper surface of the seats, where their marble facings were set; unfortunately no evidence of these survives.

The state of preservation of the ten visible rows of seats is satisfactory. Following interventions in that area, the theatre is not in immediate need of conservation. The remainder of the theatre is in urgent need of reconstruction, the estimated cost of which is €130,000.

The theatre is open to the public and was formerly used for theatrical performances.

L. Kolonas
Archaeologist

Monument Name

Theatre of Nea Pleurona

Category

Theatre

Brief Description

Nea Pleurona is located approximately 5 km northwest of the town of Messolonghi. The theatre adjoins the west side of the fortifications of Nea Pleurona. This is one of the most interesting theatres in Aetolia, due to both the unique view of the lowland coastal zone west of Messolonghi, and an important structural feature it presents.

Images - Plans

There is full photographic documentation and temporary drawings based on the plan by Ε. Fiechter.

Documentation - Bibliography
  1. W. J. Woodhouse, Aetolia. Its Topography and Antiquities, Oxford 1897 (repr. New York, 1973), 115-124
  2. R. Herzog & E. Ziebarth, Das Theater von Neu-Pleuron, MDAI (A) 33 (1898), 314-325
  3. E. Fiechter, Die Theater von Oiniadai und Neu Pleuron, Antike griechische Theaterbauten II, Stuttgart 1931
  4. A. v. Gerkan, Rez. Zu Friechter, Antike Theaterbauten, Oiniadai, Neu Pleuron, Gnomon IX (1933), 145ff
  5. Ευθ. Μαστροκώστας, Αρχαιότητες και μνημεία Αιτωλοακαρνανίας, ΑΔ 16 (1960), p. 195
  6. Λάζαρος Κολώνας, Νέα Πλευρώνα, ΑΔ 48 (1993), Part B 1, Χρονικά, 140
  7. Αιτωλοακαρνανία. Αρχαία Θέατρα. Μύθοι – Θεοί – Ήρωες, Στ. Σαλάπας – Μ. Μανικάρου (επιμ.), Εκδόσεις Ίφιτος, Αγρίνιο 1999
  8. Π. Μάξιμος, Αρχαία ελληνικά θέατρα. 2.500 χρόνια φως και πνεύμα, Αθήνα 2000
  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, Αθήνα, 2006, 343-345
  10. Λ. Κολώνας, Νέα Πλευρώνα, Ministry of Culture – TDPEAE, Αθήνα 2008 (archaeological guidebook)
Location

Nea Pleurona is located approximately 5 km northwest of the town of Messolonghi and occupies two hills at the southwest end of the Arakynthos range (Zygos). The locals call the fortifications of Nea Pleurona the “Castle of Kyra (Lady) Rini”.

Dating

General Description of Monument

The theatre adjoins the west side of the fortifications of Nea Pleurona, approximately halfway along their length and about 130 m. from the Main Gate A. This is one of the most interesting theatres in Aetolia, due to both the unique view of the lowland coastal zone west of Messolonghi and an important structural feature it presents. Specifically, the proscenium (logeion) has been positioned in front of the wall and in contact with it, the cavea faces west, while the functionality of the theatre stage is complemented by the adjoining Tower 3 and the wings of the wall on both sides. From this tower, and presumably the underground / ground floor area of the proscenium, it was possible to access a small exit gateway on the north side of the wall. Tower 3, measuring 6.50 m. x 3.30 m., and preserved to a height of approximately 5.70 m., must have been an ancillary area of the stage and parascenia, perhaps serving as the actors’ dressing rooms. The parodoi of the theatre, 2.40 m. wide, consisted of corridors delimited by the retaining walls of the cavea and the small walls running parallel to the inner side of the fortification wall. The excavation of the north parodos proved that the parodos entrances to the theatre had arched lintels. It also uncovered the supporting bases of the jambs, measuring 0.53 m. x 0.35 m. and 0.48 m. x 0.45 m., parts of the jambs themselves and five arch stones. The orchestra of the theatre is 11.60 m. in diameter and is made of earth laid on the natural ground, without a surrounding rainwater drainage duct. Rainwater collected in a small duct running from the south end of the orchestra and out through the fortification wall. The cavea is laid out on the hillside. From the structural remains it would seem that, apart from the 15 rows visible today, it had a total of 25 to 30 rows of seats. Some seats are carved out of the bedrock. The cavea contains four staircases, two adjoining the side retaining walls (to north and south) and two central ones dividing it into three cunei. Although the theatre has not been fully excavated, it appears that above the tenth row of seats there must have been a passageway dividing the lower cavea from the upper, or epitheatre. Traces of the staircase leading to the epitheatre are visible today along the central axis of the theatre, above the tenth row of seats. In some places the seats are made of rectangular dressed blocks of stone, while in others, particularly the two lowest rows, in the centre of the theatre, they are carved out of the bedrock. At three points along the front of the first row of seats, one in the centre and two towards the central staircases, chisel marks are visible where the seats of honour stood (corresponding to one per cuneus). Shallow cuts are also preserved on the upper surface of the seats, where their marble facings were set; unfortunately no evidence of these survives.

Current Situation

The state of preservation of the ten visible rows of seats is satisfactory. Following interventions in that area, the theatre is not in immediate need of conservation. The remainder of the theatre is in urgent need of reconstruction, following a study to be carried out for this purpose.

Excavations - Interventions
  •  Removal to a nearby empty space of all the scattered building material in the orchestra, to be used in future restoration of the theatre.
  •  Clearing of the parodoi through systematic excavation.
  • Test excavation in the fill of Tower 3 undertaken in 1993 by Prof. S. Gogos and myself.
  • Identification and cleaning of the theatre drainage duct.
  • Uncovering of all the retaining walls around the upper cavea, and elements of the cunei from the tenth row upwards.
  • Restoration of scattered architectural members and raising of the fallen seats in the rows.
  • An investigation into a study for the restoration of the theatre has been carried out, according to which this will require €130,000.

 

 

 

Permitted Uses

Simple visit (plays were formerly allowed).

History of Modern Uses

A lime kiln was in use in the orchestra in the 19th and perhaps the early 20th century.

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 2008 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.

Intellectual Rights

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).

Jurisdiction

Latitude

38.413971°

Longitude

21.408593°

NameDateAmount (€)
Ilias of Georgios Kyriakopoulos50.00
Diazoma Association100.00
Stefanos Tsolakidis100.00
Liakatas Association100.00
Total
€350.00
Balance
€350.00
DescriptionBudgetTargetRemarks
Restoration study60.000.00

Α Programmatic Agreement has been signed, amounting 125,000 € among the former Prefecture of Aitoloakarnania and the Ministry of Culture for the study of restoration of the theatres of Oiniades and Plevrona.

Supplementary works10.000.0010.000.00

This amount will be useful for supplementary works that will arise.