Patara's Amphitheatre



The excavators at Patara have done an excellent job uncovering the amphitheatre at Patara (one of the largest in Anatolia); just a few years ago it was filled with sand, vegetation and rubble.  The view from the top, facing the city center, is fantastic.

The theatre has a skene (stage building) from Roman times that had two floors and five doors opening to the proskene (stage).  It may also have had a portico with columns on its northern side.  From a photograph taken in the late 19th century, we know that the skene was in a slightly better state then, it has perhaps sustained damage from earthquakes in the last century.

The theatre itself has its roots in Hellenistic times (the cavea is on a foundation that is more than the Roman semi-circle).  Also, inscriptions mention that the theatre was rebuilt by Polyperchon, a monk of Apollo, at the beginning of the 1st century AD and another inscription supports this dating.  The theatre may have needed some rebuilding after the hugely devestating earthquakes of 140-143 AD; a long inscription on the outer face of the stage building indicates that the proskene was constructed by a man named Quintus Velio Titionus in 147 AD. and also that it was decorated by his daughter, Vilia Procula, with statues, decorations and marble coverings starting from the base "in honor of the gods of Augustus and in honor of the gods of Patara city and in honor of Emperor Antonius Pius in the year 147 AD."  The upper section and the velarium (large awning) were also funded by Quintus Velio at an earlier date.

Remains on the top step of the cavea lead researchers to believe that an important building once stood there.  It was surrounded by the back wall of the theatre and built into the theatre's structure.  Based on nearby evidence, Dr. Fahri Işıki (head excavator of Patara) believes that this building was a Dionysus temple and that the theatre's original purpose was Dionysiac.  Another theatre with a temple placed above the cavea was the Theatre of Pompey in Rome.

Click to see this structure's location at Patara

 

skene (stage building)

 
 

 

Note: Information on this page is from the book Patara: The History and Ruins of The Capital City of Lycian League by Dr. Fahri Işıki (head excavator of Patara), Orkun and Ozan Medya Hizmetleri A.Ş. 2000.  I believe this is a limited edition book and unfortunately I don't know where it can be purchased.