Ancient Theater in Turkey
Magnesia ad Maeandrum




Other names: ./.
Roman province: Caria
Location: Tekin, Söke county, Province Aydın
Capacity: planned for approx. 4.700 spectators
Dimensions: ø cavea: 67,5 m
ø orchestra: 25,5 m

The late Hellenistic or early imperial theatre was never quite completed. It was only discovered in 1984. The remains are not very spectacular. There are no traces of the probably wooden stage house. The entrance of the prohedrie (special seating blocks) at the front of the podium shows that the building has a special plan compared to ordinary theatres. It is therefore referred to as the "theatron" (seat tribune) because the exact function is unknown.
The construction was never completed, as can be seen from the phases of the foundation (back from right to left) and the machining of the marble elements. The building was planned with 7 kerkides (wedge-shaped seating areas) and 2 diazoma (bays) for 4700 visitors. It is assumed that in the 1st century A.D. the construction work had to be stopped due to a landslide.

The history of Magnesia ad Maeandrum:  

According to legend, the town of Magnesia was founded a generation before the Trojan War by magnets from Thessaly. By Alexander the Great magnesia became Macedonian, fell to various Diadochi, became selective and experienced its cultural heyday with the kingdom of Pergamum in the 2nd century BC. Magnesia is mentioned in the works of Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Pausanias, among others. A war with Miletus was ended in 196 B.C. by a peace treaty, after 190 B.C. the city was liberated by the Romans.

In 133 B.C. magnesia was bequeathed to the Roman Empire. Destroyed by an earthquake in 17 A.D., the city was rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Tiberius within twelve years from his own means. As early as 114 A.D. there was an early Christian community there, which regularly sent its bishops to the councils in the following centuries. After the conquest and plunder by the Goths in 262 AD, Magnesia, like the neighbouring villages of Ephesus and Miletus, could never fully recover. Although it still became a Byzantine bishop's town and received a ring wall against the onslaught of Persians and Seljukes, it was little more than a Byzantine border fortress. As a result of floods, epidemics and other plagues, Magnesia was gradually abandoned by its last inhabitants and fell into decay.

In the course of the large excavation campaigns in Asia Minor by French, German and British scientists, magnesia was also rediscovered. In the years 1891-1893, excavations were carried out by the Berlin museums under the direction of Carl Humann, during which the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis of Hermogenes were uncovered. After the completion of the first excavation campaign in 1893, the excavations were suspended until 1984.
The alluvial sediments and the loam layers removed by rainwater, some up to 4-5 m thick, covered the excavated areas and buildings with earth again. Magnesia was forgotten for almost a hundred years, although important research work on Hermogenes was carried out during this time. Since 1984, the University of Ankara has been carrying out new excavations under the direction of Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl.


© Prof. Dr. Orhan Bingöl

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