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Monday - 2.IV.06
Found to-day in theatre. [Greek text naming the emperor Vespasian.] This is the architectural block and probably comes from portico surrounding theatre! (2) The road to S. of theatre has been discovered! These discoveries occurred within 2 minutes. You can picture the wild excitement. Also an interesting discovery that the large blocks of the theatre bear a large No. of mason's marks, A, E, N etc apparently of 4th or 3rd cent. date. Things going very strong just now. As Tillyard & Traqua(ir) will probably both go after Easter, it will be, I expect, necessary for me to have assistance then. I hope you will arrange or perhaps have arranged w(ith) Droop.
GD (G. Dickins)
The Ancient Theatre
Excavation began here, too, in 1906-10. The expedition was led by Bosanquet and then Dawkins, with the assistance of many members of the School.
Work resumed 1924-8 under A. M. Woodward, assisted by W. Lamb, W. L. Cuttle, and P. de Jong among others. who cleared part of the theatre and published the many inscriptions which massively expanded or knowledge of the Spartan élite in the Roman period.
Finally, excavation recommenced in 1992 with G. B. Waywell and J. J. Wilkes directing a University of London team under the auspices of the BSA.
The theatre has been described as the largest in Greece, after Megalopolis. Below the diazoma were ten radial staircases, above it no fewer than seventeen. Pottery found under the upper cavea suggests a construction date during the rule of Eurykles (c.30-20 BC), while the architecture of the stage building points to Flavian and Severan renovations. The theatre was in use till about the end of the 4th century AD, with early and late Byzantine reoccupation to the 13th century. Sculptures found in the new excavations include a statuette of a god, an Antonine female portrait, and a fine late Roman portrait head.
In the latest (1997) excavation season a trench was dug across the west parodos at the end of the late Roman nymphaeum excavated in 1927. Evidence was found for the channelled blocks which may have served as a runway for a moveable stage in the earlier (1st century BC) phase of the theatre. Further work was carried out in 1998.

The Excavations at Sparta. British School at Athens - the Archive. 10 Feb. 2009 <>
Copyright © 2009 Thomas G. Hines, Department of Theatre, Whitman College. All Rights Reserved
Last Update: 2/10/09