KALYDON - 2012
Antiquity - Classical - Hellenistic
Theatre - Entertainment venue - Building Type
Type of Operation
Excavation - Research excavation
ΛΣτ΄ ΕΠΚΑ, DIA
Ancient Kalydon. O. Vikatou (Director, ΛΣτ' ΕΠΚΑ) and R. Frederiksen (Director, DIA) report on the second season of excavation in the ancient theatre (Fig. 1), focused in the upper western corner and east wing of the koilon, the west parodos and ramp, the proskenion and scene building, and the east part of the scene building and an area to the south of it (Figs 2 and 3).
The clearance of seating rows in an unsuccessful attempt to define the outer limit of the koilon on the west side revealed steps continuing upwards and outwards to the north and west. It is thus possible that the seating continued to a currently unknown height or that the koilon served a dual purpose, both as a theatre and as a stepped access to the sanctuary area immediately above it. The majority of seat rows in this upper area were made from smaller stones, whereas seats in the lower rows were formed of blocks cut to the desired height and depth: these blocks abut in various ways, but most often in 90 degree angles. Seat dimensions vary, but most are 0.35m high and 0.6m deep. No traces of stairways or other subdivisions of the koilon have yet been found.
Seat rows with in situ blocks were exposed at the junction of the central and eastern parts of the koilon (Fig. 2). The design here is as in the west part: the first nine rows meet at a 90º angle, and then from the 10th upwards, in a curve. The lower koilon is thus Π-shaped (Fig. 4). Excavation of the entire central-western part of the koilon reveals the difference between rows preserved in situ and the bedrock above (exposed in 2011), where evidence for seating is not readily available. The exact junction of those two areas shows some indication of seating constructed in and on bedrock. The koilon is less well preserved in the east wing, where the additional packing placed on the bedrock to support the seat rows has partly collapsed and partly been destroyed by an old road across the theatre. Excavation in the east wing was halted when it exposed a layer of stone packing which is probably the foundation for the seating. The parodos walls run east (?) and west at right angles to the lower corners of the koilon. In the west parodos, the analemma appears to have been built to a depth of no more than one or two blocks (loosely fitted), and was not intended to support any addition to the koilon. However the bedrock was so high in this area that a strong analemma would have been purely ornamental. In the east wing, however, an analemma was required to support the artificial mound: the fact that it has not yet been clearly identified implies that it has collapsed and/or been robbed out.
Excavation across the scene building (Fig. 2 no. 3) revealed details of the orchestra construction. Two layers of boulders mixed with soil and a very little pottery, alternating with layers of fine dark sandy soil, likely constitute the orchestra’s foundation, representing either one or two building phases. Bedrock lay at a depth of ca 2m below the orchestra surface. A block of local conglomerate in the middle of the orchestra (ca 8m from each corner of the koilon, on the east-west axis of the theatre parallel to the analemma) if deliberately placed, may have been a thymele.
Substantial remains of the 4m-wide scene building are preserved (Figs 2 and 4), with double-faced walls of well-cut blocks of the same locally-quarried sandstone used for the koilon. The building had an Ionic proskenion of equal width, with 16 columns and ramps on both sides: the stylobate is completely preserved and dowel-holes indicate the column settings. Parallels for the columns indicate a fourth-century date. The columns plus fragments probably of the architrave are made of a rough, easily workable limestone coated with stucco: this stone does not seem to be local. Preliminary calculation of the height of the end of the west ramp suggests that it (and thus the proskenion with entablature) reached 3m. The west ramp wall runs for almost 9m: the exposed masonry of the north wall (facing the koilon) is very fine. At the west end of this ramp, an over 1m-long block of the rough limestone was found in situ on top of the wall. The wall tapers upwards towards the west end and although only the lower courses are preserved, this seems to reflect the original inclination of the ramp. The north wall of the east ramp, and the remains of what is probably ramp filling, were identified at the end of the season.
Evidence to date suggests that the theatre was in use for most of the fourth century, with a subsequent short occupation phase perhaps late in the Early Hellenistic period. Future study of the assemblage from the collapsed roof may provide more secure evidence for the chronological limits of the theatre’s use and of subsequent activity.
Date of creation
Fig. 1/ Kalydon, Aerial photograph of theatre before 2011 campaign with indication of areas marked for research 2011-12.
Fig. 2/ Kalydon, Aerial photograph of theatre after 2012, campaign with indication of main areas excavated.