The B’ Ancient Theatre

15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Larissa

The B’ Ancient Theatre of Larissa is located south-westerly to the hill called «Pefkakia». Systematic excavations took place in 1985 and 1986. It is not certain whether Pefkakia hill was standing alone or formed the natural prolongation of Frourio hill; nevertheless, we know that the area was already inhabited in the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC). In the same topographic position (Hill “Pefkakia”) was located also the Mosque of Hasan Bey, at the period of Ottoman domination. When the mosque was demolished, they were found two epigraphic testimonies dedicated to God Dimitra, Persephone and to Despotis. It is speculated therefore that in the same place, besides the theatre, a temple lied there, called «Thesmoforio» and it was dedicated to these two deities.

Based on excavation evidence, the construction of the Second Ancient Theatre is dated to the second half of the first century BC. The person responsible for the excavation of the monument, Prof. of Archaeology, Athanasios Tziafalias, formulated the opinion that it was related to the Eleftheria celebration, including sporting events and horse races, theatrical and musical performances, as well as recitation of poetry. Very likely, the A’ Ancient Theatre of the city could not suffice for cultural events anymore, since it was slowly deprived of its purely theatrical nature and gradually altered into an arena.

From the many different parts of the theatre only the stage and orchestra were fully completed. The cavea (gr.: koilo, auditorium) and byways remained semi finished rather for reasons of economic recession. Cavea (gr.: koilo, auditorium) is separated by fourteen stairs in thirteen rows of seats. Each row of seats had two lines of docks from grey- white marble. The marbling of the cavea was never completed, probably because of financial recession; thus the remaining part was presumably covered with wooden seats, known in the antiquity as ikria.

Remarkably enough, the marble used for the benches and stairs of the cavea, as well as for the retaining walls of the parodoi (passageways, public entrances) does not come from quarries, but is re-used building material of some older building. By the form of the stones we suppose that this particular building had a circular ground plan; a fact eventually significant of its use, are the inscriptions by emancipated slaves on the stones' surface, dating back to the late third century BC.

Panoramic view of the B’ Ancient Theatre of Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Larissa)
Aerial photography of the B’ Ancient Theatre of Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Larissa)

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