Archaeologists to restore the Ancient Theatre of Dionysos

The ruined theatre under the Acropolis in Athens, considered as the birthplace of classical theatre, will be partially restored over the next six years, Greek authorities announced recently.

The project, worth 6 million euro, includes extensive modern additions to the surviving stone seats of the theater, where works of Euripides and other classical ancient playwrights were performed some 2,500 years ago, the Associated Press recently reported.

The theatre, located on the slopes of the Acropolis Hill, was first used in the late sixth century BC, with the performances of plays by the precursors of western theatre – tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and Aristophanes’ comedies, according to the publication.

“The Theater of Dionysos … is of immense historic significance, as it is here that the masterpieces of ancient drama were first performed,” architect Constantinos Boletis, the project leader, told the publication.

The theatre, which was initially a terrace where spectators sat on the bare earth above a circular stage, was rebuilt in limestone and marble during the fourth century BC and modified in Hellenistic and Roman times. A section of the stone seating, with a capacity of up to 15,000 spectators, is intact.

Restoration plans include the addition of several tiers, using a combination of new stone and recovered ancient fragments, while strengthening retaining walls and other parts of the building.

Although many ancient theatres and concert halls, which underwent extensive restoration over the past century now host summer theatre and music performances, it is unlikely that Theatre of Dionysos, named after the ancient god of theater and wine in whose cult the art originated, will host modern audiences any time soon.

Although there were plans to hold performances there after its excavation in the nineteenth century, the idea was abandoned in the mid-1970s, according to Boletis.



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