Renovations / Excavations
State of preservation: The theatre building is relatively well preserved. The cavea is almost completely intact, while the rear part of the scene has crumbled into the valley. The monument has been excavated but it has not been restored yet. A usage of the monument has not been mentioned or recorded in later times. (Aristodimou).
Cavea Width: 55 meters
Orchestra Width: 15 meters
Greek theatre in Pinara (Minara, Esenki) in Lycia, in southern Turkey. It is built on a hill slope opposite the acropolis. Its construction is dated to the Hellenistic period, possibly in the last quarter of the 2nd century B.C. (125-100 B.C.). Its capacity was 3,200 seats. There might have been altars in the orchestra (a square and a round one). It was not decorated since the local building material was not suitable for carving. (Aristodimou)
“The Ancient Theatre of Pinara” (modern Minare Köyü, Turkey)
Author: Aristodimou Georgia, “Pinara (Antiquity), Theatre”, Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor, Translation: Dawson Maria – Dimitra , Kamara Afroditi, URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9395>. (reproduced with permission of the author, (accessed 11/7/2023)
Location: The theater stands out among the architectural remains of the city of Pinara in the Roman province of Lycia. It faces west and this makes the parodoi, the two passageways, which led to the orchestra, to be oriented from north to south. It is an extra-urban structure built against the western slope of a hill, opposite to the acropolis.(1)
Architectural Design: It is a Greek theater with a capacity of 3,200 seats, which had preserved its ground plan without alterations during the Imperial period. (2) It follows the architectural design of Greek theaters in the area of south Asia Minor like those in Myra, in Patara, and elsewhere.
The theater’s auditorium (cavea) (54.5 m in diameter ) exceeds a semicircle following the usual carving. It is built on a natural slope of a hill taking advantage of its slope for the formation of the middle seat section; for the construction of the side seat sections, artificial substructures were required so as to cover the incline. The theatrical cavea contains twenty-five rows of seats (0.395 m. height).(3) The seating is divided vertically by 10 radial staircases into nine wedge-shaped segments, the kerkides (cunei). At the rear side of each seat there is a shallow depression where the spectators placed their feet without annoying those sat in front of them. In the top part of the cavea, there was a circumferential uncovered corridor (peripatos) 2.3 m. wide. The retaining walls (analemmata) at the ends of the cavea, which converged towards the center of the circle, ended in pillars.(4)
The stage building (scene) is partly preserved, in height from 2 to 4 m. Due to the steep incline of the slope, the formation of an artificial substructure was necessary, so that the stage could reach the level of the orchestra. Rough blocks, as well as fragments of architectural members, accumulated so as to fill the gaps, were used in the construction. These artificial fills were incorporated into a framework of pillars and courses of reused brick-shaped stones. The architectural components of this elaborate substructure are nowadays scattered around the area.
The scene rose to a height of two stories. It consists of two sections: the main stage building which receded and had a rectangular layout and the proscaenium. The wall that separates those two sections contains five doorways (thyromata) allowing communication between those two parts of the scene. At the façade of the proscaenium there were also two doorways, placed symmetrically. Two doors opened at the narrow sides of the proscaenium, which permitted access to the interior. Nowadays, the doors of the north side with their pilasters are preserved. The proscaenium’s wall follows the design of the retaining walls. This characteristic can also be seen in other theaters of Asia Minor.(5) The proscaenium was sustained by ten unpreserved supports. Better preserved is the lower part of the stage, at the level of the hyposkenion. Some pillars from the proscaenium’s façade (cross-section: 0.62m x 0.80 m) are also preserved, which probably supported the upper pillars of the stage that formed the doorways of the façade.(6) It is characteristic that both pilasters and architraves (epistyles) were not decorated, most probably because the local stone from which the edifices in Pinara were constructed could not be carved. One rectangular and another round altar, found in the area, probably belonged to the orchestra.
Construction: The theater was built with brick-shaped stones of local limestone. The outer wall of the cavea is built in opus quadratum with smooth even courses of masonry, apart from the middle row which has the half height of the others. The brick-shaped stones of the outer wall vary in length and are placed one above the other without mortar. The retaining walls also give the same visual impression. Their upper surface follows the incline of the cavea with L-shapes blocks so as to be embedded in one another. This construction has proven to be quite durable and has not been affected by the course of time.
Date: The prevailing assumptions regarding the date of the theater are those of D. De Bernardi Ferrero and W.W. Wurster and Μ. Wörrle. According to De Bernardi Ferrero, the theatre can be dated to the Hellenistic period and more precisely between 125 and 100 BC, or in the first years of the following century. The scholar supports his view on the architectural characteristics of the stage building:(7) the symmetry of the masonry (courses of square brick-shaped stones alternating with shallow ones), the monumental character of the construction of the preserved architectural elements (retaining walls and parapets), the linear layout of the scene, the rectilinear scaenae frons, the use of the doric proscaenium and its outer walls parallel to the retaining walls.
On the other hand, according to Wurster and Wörrle, these features of the scene do not advocate a chronology exclusively in the 2nd century B.C. since they are typical for many other cities of Lycia and Pamphylia during the Imperial years and mainly during the first two centuries, i.e. Oenoanda, Patara and elsewhere.
State of preservation: The theatre building is relatively well preserved. The cavea is almost completely intact, while the rear part of the scene has crumbled into the valley. The monument has been excavated but it has not been restored yet. A usage of the monument has not been mentioned or recorded in later times.
1. Bean, G.E., Lykian Turkey – An Archaeological Guide (London 1978), p. 74, plat. 31.
2. PECS (1976), p. 713, see entry “Pinara” (G.E. Bean).
3. Bean, G.E., Lykian Turkey – An Archaeological Guide (London 1978), p. 77, mentions twenty seven rows of seats.
4. One of the two pillars of the east retaining wall is preserved.
5. De Bernardi Ferrero, D., Teatri classici in Asia Minore IV: Deduzioni e proposte (Roma 1974), p 166, plat. IV, where it is mentioned that the same inclination is displayed in the proscaenium’s wall of the theaters of the following cities : Aphodisias, Arykanda, Cadyanda, Telmessus.
6. According to De Bernardi Ferrero, in the middle section of the proscaenium, the architectural components that were scattered in the orchestra and the hyposkenion indicate that there was a Doric colonnade, see De Bernardi Ferrero, D., Teatri classici in Asia Minore II: Città di Pisidia, Licia e Caria (Roma 1969), p. 119.
7. See De Bernardi Ferrero, D., Teatri classici in Asia Minore II: Città di Pisidia, Licia e Caria (Roma 1969), p. 120.
Bibliography / Resources:
Aristodimou, Georgia, “Pinara (Antiquity), Theatre”, Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9395>
Bean G.E., Lycian Turkey. An archaeological guide, London – New York 1978
Ciancio Rossetto P. – Pisani Sartorio G. (eds), Teatri Greci e Romani, alle Origini del Linguaggio rappresentato, Roma 1994
Μάξιμος Π., Αρχαία Ελληνικά Θέατρα, Αθήνα 1988
De Bernardi Ferrero D., Teatri classici in Asia Minore II. Città di Pisidia, Licia e Caria, Roma 1969, Studi di Architettura Antica
De Bernardi Ferrero D., Teatri classici in Asia Minore IV. Deduzioni e proposte, Roma 1974, Studi di Architettura Antica
Fellows, Sir Charles. Journal Kept During a Second Excursion in Asia Minor, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Fellows, Sir Charles. Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, More Particularly in the Province of Lycia, 1852. (reprinted ed.). 2015.
Sear, Frank. Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006 (p. 373-374)