Archaeologists uncover 2,300-year-old theatre in Cyprus

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Archaeologists uncover 2,300-year-old theatre in Cyprus

The antiquities department of Cyprus announced today that an Australian archaeological team discovered a 300 BC theatre, the oldest structure of its kind ever discovered on the Mediterranean island.

The statement says, “The Australian team has unearthed Cyprus’ oldest theatre: a building that was used as a venue for performance and spectacle for over six-and-a-half centuries from c 300 BC until its final destruction in the earthquakes of AD 365.”

“Recent excavations have attempted to place the theatre within its ancient urban context, through recognizing the surrounding ancient buildings, including a second-century AD nymphaeum (water fountain),” it added.

Excavations at the site of the Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos, on Cyprus’ southwestern coast, were conducted by the Australian Archaeological Mission from the University of Sydney.

The Australian team has been excavating at the UNESCO World Heritage site for two decades.

In September the team conducted a geo-mapping survey of the ruins of the town’s Roman colonnades.

Excavations immediately to the south of the theatre revealed a Roman paved road, approximately 8.4 metres (28 feet) wide, which was the main traffic thoroughfare to access the theatre, the antiquities department said.

“The existence of this road also confirms that ancient Nea Paphos was laid out on a typical Hellenistic grid plan. The discovery of numerous fragments of granite columns on the theatre site (over 30 to date) confirms the importance of the paved road,” said the statement.

The columns are made from granite from quarries in Troad in Turkey and reflect Roman trade in monumental architectural elements.

The largest, and least common, of Troad granite columns stood 24 Roman feet (over 7 metres) tall.

“Troad granite columns are known from colonnades across the Mediterranean. As the capital city of Cyprus at the time, it is not surprising that Nea Paphos would be adorned with this architectural demonstration of Roman civic order.”

The ancient theatre was recorded for the first time using pole photography and photogrammetric programs which stitched together over 2,000 individual high resolution photos.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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