Ancient Theater in Turkey




Other names: ./.
Roman province: Caria
Location: Geyre, Karacasu County, Province Aydın
Capacity: ca. 10.000 spectators
Dimensions: ° cavea: 116 m
° orchestra: 30 m

The (Greek) theatre of Aphrodisias was built in the 1st century BC and probably consecrated in 35 BC. It nestles on the western slope of the Acropolis Hill. In front of the actual stage house was the proskenion, a fašade-like porch, corresponding to the Greek theatre architecture. Stage sets were installed in the rooms between the columns of the proskenion.
The theatre was rebuilt several times in Roman times. The current state corresponds to the expansion of the 2nd to 3rd centuries AD. The orchestra was deepened under Marc Aurel (Roman emperor from 161-180 AD) and rebuilt for gladiatorial and animal fights. The orchestra could be flooded for cleaning. Under his predecessor, Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD), the summa cavea, the upper spectator stands for the lower people, was extended. The theatre was unveiled in the 70s of the last century by New York University.

The history of Aphrodisias:  

The name Aphrodisias derives from the cult of Aphrodite practiced in the central temple of Aphrodite. The origins of the city can be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC. However, it only received its name in Hellenistic times in the 3rd century BC. Earlier names were Lelegonopolis, Megalopolis and Ninoe. In the Hellenism Aphrodisias also entered a connection with the neighbouring Plarasa. This was done by minting common coins.

However, Aphrodisias only gained importance in the 1st century B.C. due to a close relationship to Rome: During the war against Mithridates VI, Aphrodisias stood by the Romans and even sent auxiliary troops, when the Roman commander Quintus Oppius was besieged around 88 B.C.. Out of gratitude Oppius became patron and advocate of the city in Rome.

During the Roman civil wars after the death of Gaius Iulius Caesar, the city was able to maintain a good relationship with the rulers, as it chose the right side in the long run: After the troops of Quintus Labienus had conquered the city by force 40 or 39, the three triumviruses Antonius, Octavian and Lepidus secured it after their victory out of gratitude in an inscribed decree 39 v. The decree 39 v. Chr. granted her freedom (from the Roman provincial administration), immunity from Roman taxes and the right of asylum and had this confirmed by a decision of the Senate and the people.
The privileges were confirmed again and again, at last 243 A.D. by emperor Gordian III. Further inscriptions provide information about the relationship between Aphrodisia and Rome.

Favoured by the nearby quarries, an extensive marble industry and a famous sculpting school flourished, but Aphrodisias was also known for fine textile products (wool and cotton).
The city was founded, beginning in Augustan times, in the first two centuries n. Chr. like many small Asian cities with numerous public buildings.
In the late 3rd century it became the capital of the newly established province of Caria.

Numerous and well-preserved ruins make Aphrodisias one of the most important archaeological sites of the Eastern Mediterranean from the Greek-Roman period. The remains of the temple of Aphrodite, still visible today, date back to the 1st century B.C. (although an Aphrodite temple already existed earlier). Under Augustus and Hadrian the temple was further extended and rebuilt. In the 5th century it was transformed into a church.
Further sights of Aphrodisias are the Tetrapylon, the Odeon and/or the bishop palace, the Agora, the theatre, the baths of Hadrian, the Sebasteion (which refers to an emperor cult) and the stadium.

The victory of Christianity in late antiquity led to an ostracism of the Aphrodite cult. In late antiquity, the city was renamed Stauropolis ("City of the Cross"), but the name Caria prevailed, which eventually became the Turkish name Geyre.
Between the 7th and 13th centuries, wars and earthquakes caused the further decline of the city. Since the 15th century, Geyre has been repopulated.

Photos: @chim    
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Source: Wikipedia and others