Ancient Theater in Turkey




Other names: ./.
Roman province: Lycia
Location: Turunçova, Finike county, Province Antalya
Capacity: ca. 15.000 spectators
Dimensions: ø cavea: 65,5 m
ø orchestra: 19 m

The Hellenistic theatre of Limyra became the end of the second, beginning of the first. It was built in the tradition of Greek theatres. Contrary to the usual procedure of leaning the cavea against a ground elevation, this theatre was completely free. Today's impression is deceptive, as the earth that slipped down from the hill over time buried the outer entrances to the rows of seats. The visible state of the building today shows the status of the restoration work in the 2nd half of the 2nd century AD. After this construction measure, the building had a capacity of approx. 15,000 spectators. The theatre, like the entire city and several other cities of the Lycian League, was destroyed after a devastating earthquake in 141 AD. The stage house was rebuilt with the help of donations from the Rhodiapolis-based Euerget Opramoas. Today, not much more exists of the stage house than the foundations.

The history of Limyra:  

The origins of the city, which the Lycians called "Zemuri", date back to the 5th century BC. Ancient records and coin finds suggest that in Zemuri the lightning hurling Zeus was worshipped as the main god. This was extraordinary for Lycia, because the main gods of the Lycians were Artemis and Apollo.
Both the German and the Austrian Archaeological Institutes carry out excavations in Limyra. Jürgen Borchardt, Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Vienna, was able to prove in 1966 that the Lycian Prince Perikles ruled from Limyra. This gives the city, which was considered insignificant in comparison with the Lycian metropolises of Xanthos and Myra, a completely different status. Perikles apparently took part in the bloody Satraps uprising against the Persian Grand King in 366 BC. The raised sarcophagus of his brother Xntabura can still be seen today diagonally above the theatre.

Limyra was home to the well known spring oracle of Limyra. It is said that holy trout predicted the future. If they accepted the offered fish food, the prognosis was positive, if they spurned the food, they were very sceptical about the event.

A stroke of luck for the city was that in the year 4 A.D. the young grandson of Augustus Gaius Caesar died in Limyra after a campaign seriously wounded. A large cenotaph was erected for him, the ruins of which still rise out of the swamp area of the lower town today. Rome let plenty of money flow into the place of death of the emperor's descendants. For example, the temples were renovated and splendidly furnished. After the earthquake of 141 A.D., considerable reconstruction assistance was provided.

After the conquest by Alexander the Great, Limyra came under the alternating rule of his successor until it was awarded to the Rhodians in 188 B.C. with all of Lycia. In several revolts the Lycians fought against the hated Rhodians. In 167 B.C. they were able to achieve diplomatic separation from Rhodes and limited autonomy within the Roman administration. In the Lycian League of Cities, which was regaining strength, Limyra at times received three votes, which emphasizes the importance of the city.

The part of the city built in Roman times became swampy in Byzantine times due to the sedimentation of the river Limyros, until it became completely uninhabitable. The people settled in the former harbour of Limyras, Phoinikos, today's Finike. Lymyra lost its importance and was finally abandoned altogether.

Photos: @chim, Monika P.    
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Source: Wikipedia and others