There are two theatre structures at Ephesus, the Great
Theatre and the
An inscription tells us that the theatre was commissioned
around 150 AD by the wealthy benefactor Publius Vedius
Antoninus and his wife Flavia Papiane. The building is
located at the northern edge of the State Agora in close
proximity to the Pryteneion (the town hall), and has been
interpreted both as a city council chamber (Bouleuterion)
and as a small concert hall (Odeion). The
structure, which resembles a small
likely served both functions.
- The building features a
relatively small cavea (seating approximately 1500),
sunken semi-circular orchestra, and a shallow stage
stage could be approached from either side using sloping
ramps and was
backed by five doors leading to the Basilica
Stoa (Royal Colonnade).
The building could be accessed through doors in the
large arched doors at the end of the
through an arched
leading to the top of the lower cavea seating
audience was provided with two tiers of marble seating
separated by a single walkway (diazoma) and divided into
thirteen wedge-shaped sections (kerkides or
bottom and top tiers of seating consist of thirteen and
ten rows of seats respectively, and the kerkides are
accessed by radiating
stairways spaced throughout the
cavea. The cavea
is enclosed by a curved outer wall and most likely had a
red marble colonnade above and behind the seating area.
Evidence of this colonnade consists of cuttings in the
floor for pilaster bases and numerous fragments of red
small semi-circular, sunken orchestra measuring 9 meters
by 4.5 meters is backed by a shallow (4 meters deep)
stage or pulpitum.
Covered parodoi (aditus
maximus) form the
two main side entrances to the stage, and several doors
at the back of the stage lead to the adjoining
building, the Basilica
Stoa. At one
time, a decorative
façade, or scaenae frons, with columns and
statuary once stood. The
archeologist J.T. Wood sent the surviving statuary to the
British Museum in the nineteenth century. The statuary
includes a dynastic group of Emperor Lucius Verus and
Empress Faustina the Younger, a silenus torso, and the
- Greek and Roman theatres
typically provided little protection from the weather
other than retractable awnings (velum). Smaller
structures such as the Odeion and Bouleuterion however,
were typically covered with a roof, comprised of wooden
battens covered with clay tiles, supported by large
triangular wooden trusses. As there are no water runoff
channels in the orchestra, the Odeion was probably
covered with such a roof. A
narrow corridor with its deep drain separating the Odeion
from the Basilica was a trough for rainwater shed by the
roofs of both buildings.
- Restoration work was
begun on the Odeion in 1970 by the Selçuk Museum.
Before the work was done, only six rows of seats were
visible and the ruins were deteriorating. In 1970 and
later in 1990, the museum paved the stage and used
concrete to stabilize the support under the seating.
work also reconstructed the entire two-tiered seating
area above the first few
rows, which were
the only rows of marble seating to have remained intact.
- - Author: Amanda
Heffernan (student research assistant), Whitman College.
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George Luxon. Rev. ed. Zero Productions, Ltd.,
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Blue Guide Turkey. London: A&C Black,
- Waugh, John K. "Roman
Ephesus: An Architectural Investigation of Immense
Proportions." Thesis, Reed College, 1999.