A theatre on Cyprus and other news

A theatre dating back to 300 BC, and of which only a small part had earlier been unearthed, has been the subject of further excavations on Cyprus at the ancient site of Nea Paphos, one of the main cities of Cyprus in ancient times. This theatre is the oldest one surviving on the island and was used for six centuries until AD 365, when it was destroyed by earthquakes.

The structure of the theatre was modified over time, and it is calculated that it could host up to 8,500 spectators in the second century AD. Nearby this structure was excavated a large paved road, approximately 8.4m wide, which ran east-west behind the theatre itself, while another road ran north-south leading from the harbour to the theatre.

The streets had columns, of which 160 fragments have been found, made of granite from the Troad in Turkey. Furthermore, according to the excavators the layout of the street confirms that Nea Paphos was organized following a typical Hellenistic grid plan.

In Egypt, a two-room temple in Gebelein, whose decorations are preserved in very bad conditions, has been studied for the first time and attributed to the famous Queen Hatshepsut. The temple was dedicated likely to Hathor and probably also to Amun-Ra.

The fortified residence of a Thracian ruler has been unearthed in Brodilovo, in south-east Bulgaria near the Black Sea. It is dated between the late second and the early first century BC, and was possibly destroyed by a fire during the Mithridatic Wars. The residence is 0.4 acres large, is surrounded by a wall 2.4m wide and preserved to a height of 1–1.5m, and is accompanied by a tower. In the residence itself were found a sacrificial altar, Thracian pottery, and imported Greek pottery. The latter includes kantharoi, amphorae and Megarian bowls (decorated with floral motifs and human figures). Metal billets and two Thracian swords were also unearthed.

Again in Bulgaria, a portico (porch or colonnade) has been discovered at the site of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria, in north-west Bulgaria. The portico is north of the governor’s residence, which was excavated last year. The excavators found Roman coins of the fourth century AD.

Still in Bulgaria, at Sofia, more ruins from the ancient site of Serdica have come to light. They include a large building of the third century AD, used at least until the sixth century AD and built with massive walls, whose foundations are 1.5–1.7m wide, and a decumanus, an east-west-oriented large street, 6m wide.

And finally, in Tuscany, Italy, an oval amphitheatre dated to the first century AD has been found in Volterra. It is in stone and decorated in panchino (a local stone), has three rows of seats, and the excavators calculate that it measured ca. 80 by 60m and could contain up to 10,000 spectators. So far, the vaulted entrance to a cryptoporticus (covered passageway), used on the way to the stage, has been excavated. The presence of such an amphitheatre lends further support to the idea that Volterra, originally an Etruscan city, remained important during the reign of Augustus.

Picture credit: thumbnail for this post taken from this article on the Thracian ruler.

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