Laodicea ad Lycum: Two Theaters.

The Phyrigian city of Laodicea ad Lycum is one of the few cities of classical antiquity that disposed of two theaters operating at the same time. This is a good testimony to the high level of prosperity achieved by Laodicea, to the point of being considered the second most important city of Asia Minor in Roman times. Let's get acquainted with these theaters:

1. The Northern Theater.

The Northern Theater.- Built in the first century, it had a capacity for 12,000 spectators and is thought was used, among other "prosaic" tasks, for performing aquatic shows. The study of its structure (photo 1) shows that it must have been a marvelous work whose present ruin, although undoubtedly showy, does not allow us to appreciate the degree of magnificence it once possessed.

2. View of a part of the upper cavea of the northern theater.

3. Remains of the scene of the northern theater. In front of its orchestra totally buried by the landslides.

The access to their seats (photo 2) was made from above, at the level of the streets of the city, descending the caveas along forty-five rows of seats with central diazoma until arriving at the base of the hill where it sits Laodicea. The great semicircle that make up the caveas, all executed in marble, was closed by a spectacular scene carved in the same material. In its good times it was as high as the own caveas (in the style of the famous theater of Aspendos), articulating itself in three floors exquisitely ornamented with columns, friezes, all kinds of carved reliefs and more than thirty sculptures. At present only the basis of this scene is preserved barely jutting out among the heaps of rubble that conceal most of this theater (photo 3, above). Nevertheless it appears to be in fairly good condition; when excavated it will certainly be something worth seeing. This northern theater survived the earthquake of 494, being used until the beginning of the 7th century when the third great earthquake in the history of the city ruined it definitively.

4. The Western Theater.

The Western Theater.- It is somewhat smaller than the northern theater, with a estimated capacity of 8000 spectators. It is also older, dating from the Hellenistic period of the city. It is, therefore, a purely Greek theater (photo 4), with a much less monumental scene , lacking vaulted galleries (the accesses were solved by stairs exclusively) as well as raised in travertine stone instead of marble. It is somewhat better preserved than the northern one, probably because it never resulted as attractive as reuse quarry (the marble is more attractive as material of plunder than the travertine). Specifically the last ten rows of seats of the upper cavea are in an excellent state (photo 5); they could even be functional.

5. View of the last ten rows of seats of the western theater, almost perfectly preserved.



The authors of this blog are

History and Numismatics lovers

specialized in ancient coinage.

Be welcome!


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