Preservation of the Ancient Theater of Makynia

 

The theater of Ancient Makyneia is located on the hills of Antirion, at a 10 minutes distance from the Rion – Antirion Bridge onto which it looks, offering a panoramic view. The risks it faced due to natural wear and the precipice at the edge of which its orchestra is located, made GEFYRA S.A. to create an alliance with “DIAZOMA” Association  (www.diazoma.gr) and the Municipality of Nafpaktia, in 2010, in order to see to interrupt this phenomenon under the supervision of the competent Ephorate of Antiquities (currently of Aetoloacarnania and Lefkada). During this period, the concession company of the Bridge contributed to the preservation of the theater by financing designs and initiatives to promote the monument by giving performances and organizing communication actions.

 

Background 

The remains of the ancient city of Makyneia are situated at “Paliokastro”, Nafpaktia Municipality. Its walled acropolis is situated at a strategic area, since it safely controls the entire marine area of the Gulf of Patras and Corinth. The unhindered view is particularly interesting since you can see the Mount Klokova, Ancient Taphiassos (current Paliovouna) to the North, the small hills and mountains of Nafpaktia to the Northeast and East and the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Patras to the South and West with the Straights of Rion – Antirion and the modern Bridge as well as part of the Gulf of Corinth, while further in the horizon you can see the mountains of Achaia and the mountain top of Ainos at Kefalonia coming dimly into view.

The city (for which there is no epigraphic confirmation allowing its safe identification), due to its particular strategic importance had been developed since the classic period. Its flourishing period starts at the end of 4th century BC and lasts until its destruction by Philip V, who according to Polybius, pillaged the coasts of Aetolia during his campaign from the island of Lefkada to Lechaio.

The 377 m strong wall of the acropolis surrounds the slightly raised and almost flat peak of the hill of 8,800 m2 and has eight towers and four gates. It is constructed based on the pseudo-isodomic trapezoidal masonry with two faces of large green-grey colored sandstone blocks, while its internal part has been embedded in gravel, earth and stones. Its outline resembles an irregular polygon. Its defensive character is enhanced thanks to both the existence of the towers and the presence of two crenellations on its western part, where there are no towers. The extensive cleanings inside the acropolis have uncovered the foundations of various buildings of different dimensions, which cannot be identified yet since they have not been surveyed. On both the North and South slopes of the acropolis hill one can see the foundations of private or public buildings, while the cemetery of the ancient city develops on the western slopes. 

 

The Theater

The theater is situated on a small widening SE of the acropolis. The archeological field surveys took place in 1988 and 1989. It has a single arc-shaped cavea with 14 rows of seats without tiers, stairs and passageway. The seats, as well as all other structural parts of the city, are made of green-grey colored sandstone coming from the region. The orchestra is also arc-shaped without any storm water gutter. The particularity of this theatre is the terraced construction of two linear rows of seats on the north side of the orchestra, the length of which ranges from 9 m to 11.50 m. Both the width and the height of the seats range from 0.30 m to 0.40 m. To access this two-step construction, in front of the first row there is a 1 m wide and 11 m long passage made of compacted soil. On the side of the orchestra, the said passage has a small ramp made of 0.20 x 0.20 m sandstones. Behind the second row and adjacent to it, slabs of various dimensions (of a height up to 0.30 m and a width ranging from 0.70 to 0.80 m) are still in their original position. These transverse slabs served as seat backs. This terraced construction, which is a transverse and not arcuate projection of the first three rows of seats of the theatre, was probably the seats of honour for the officials of the city. However, it is certain that the worn stone throne (proedriae) was intended for the guest of honour; such throne was discovered during the field survey on a stone foot at the eastern side of the first row of the terraced construction. Since the position of this structure offered the officials or honoured people the possibility to see also the audience, we deduce that this monument was initially used as bouleuterion.

Only fragmentary parts of the stage building foundations of the theatre do survive, because it has collapsed due to the steep incline of the slope on which it was built and because building material was gradually removed by the inhabitants of the area to be reused in later structures. Its dimensions are estimated at 21.60 m. x 9.70 m. Besides the stage, the foundations of the narrow theatre parodoi are also visible. No parascenia (wings) or other elements of the theatre can be seen, except for part of a retaining wall along its south side. At a small distance north of the theatre, there is an oblong natural widening where the foundations of an east-west oriented, large (17.20 x 5.80 m) non-identified temple of have been excavated.

 

Extract from
The Ancient Theaters of Aetoloacarnania
Diazoma Publications, Series: Ancient Theaters
L. Kolonas, M. Stavropoulou-Gatsi, G. Stamatis
The Ancient Theaters of Aetoloacarnania
Athens, September 2009-12-10

Diazoma – Prefecture of Aetoloacarnania
36th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

 

View the relevant videos on the theater of Ancient Makyneia (in Greek)

Ancient Theater of Makyneia 2012

Shakespearean concerns

Charilaos Trikoupis – the history of a bridge

Dialogue with citizen’s associations

Μakyneia – « God’s songs »

Preservation of the Ancient Theater of Makyneia (Facebook videos)

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