Restoration of the Ancient Lycian (Hellenistic) Theatre on the outskirts of Kaş, Turkey, was finished in September, 2011. We posted a series of photos as the restoration progressed on our Facebook photo album. We were taken on a short tour of the restoration area by Peter Talloen who, along with his wife Nurçin Alp are practicing archaeologists who have participated in several digs around Turkey.
Peter says that archaeologists know this is a Hellenistic theatre dated stylistically to the 1st quarter of the 1st century BCE; it is identified as Hellenistic on the basis of 3 elements: its horseshoe-shaped auditorium (or koilon in Greek), its round orchestra which was used by the choir, and its separate scene-building area called a skene; which included the stage and changing rooms. This was generally two levels and separate from the auditorium and was where actors changed costumes or masks and made scenery changes.
It is known that the theatre had already undergone some repairs in antiquity. For instance in the aftermath of the earthquake of 141 CE which caused havoc throughout Lycia; for the repairs to its public monuments the city of Antiphellos had received 5000 denarii, a fortune in those times, from the benefactor Opramoas of Rhodiapolis – near present-day Kumluca. According to Peter, ancient Antephellos (present day Kaş, Turkey) must have been a rich city by ancient standards because of the size of the theatre. As the city gained prominence through trading via its seaport, it gained wealth and importance to the people in the region. Theatre performances were usually events accompanied or surrounded by a festival of sorts whereby people, often from far away, came to create a bazaar atmosphere.
The crew on the site have dug out around the base of the theatre on several sides exposing the rock foundation. The workers have found shards of ceramic material under the earth at the foundation level. These finds (ie ceramics, coins etc) from the soundings that have now been made around the building as part of the restoration activity should allow the accuracy of this stylistic date to be checked. The soundings have exposed the bedrock which was cut to create a level surface on which the foundation stones of the theatre were placed.
The project workers originally sorted and numbered the blocks of stone which were put back into their proper place during the restoration. In addition there are areas where the original stone blocks had come apart due to earthquakes and weathering. Although some of the blocks from the upper two rows may be placed back, most of them are lost because they were reused in later construction; the current restoration mainly involves blocks from the remaining 26 rows which have become unstable due to seismic activity.
Peter Talloen was born in Assebroek, Belgium but currently lives in Çukurbağ Village, a few kilometres outside of Kaş, Turkey with his wife Nurçin Alp and their daughter Piraye. Peter earned his Doctor in Archaeology from Catholic University of Louvain Belgium in 2003. His dissertation was on the Cult in Pisidia. “Religious Practice in Southwestern Asia Minor from the Hellenistic until the Early Byzantine Period“.
His current position is as an Honorary Research Fellow attached to the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology at the University of Kent (England) under the direction of Dr. Luke Lavan, and he is the Beale-Osborne post-doctoral fellow of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara. The purpose of this fellowship is to publish research done in the course of doctoral level study regarding ancient Religious Practices in Pisidia. He occasionally travels to Ankara to assist the British Institute in its research about southwest Anatolia from the early Hellenistic to early Byzantine era.
For further information about Kaş, Lycian Coast Ancient Sites, or other activities contact:
Bougainville Travel, Adventure, Hotels, and Diving
Ibrahim Serin Cad. No. 10, Kas/ Antalya 07580, Turkey.
phone: +90 242 836 37 37