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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Archeology: Classical Theatres

The Theatre of Diokaisareia (Diokaisareia in Kilikien) by Marcello Spanu (Walter de Gruyter) The theatre of Diokaisareia (today Uzuncaburc) located in the Roman province of Cilicia (Turkey) has been studied within the German Archaeological Research Project directed by Detlev Wannagat. This volume offers a thorough historical and architectural analysis of the building erected in the second half of the 2nd century AD. The text is complemented by an extended collection of figures and plates, providing a detailed graphic and photographic documentation and reconstruction. This is an important contribution to the study of roman theatres and architectural decoration in Asia Minor.

The present work owes its origins to the meeting of a group of young scholars who were beginning to be concerned with Cilicia, one of the regions of Anatolia that are less well known in archaeological terms. In fact, it was during the I. Uluslararassi Kilikia Arkeolojisi Sempozyumu held at the University of Mersin in 1998 that Turkish, French, German, American, and Italian scholars began to discuss the historical and architectural problems of this regions. This first encounter was followed by a more lively debate on the occasion of the table ronde dedicated to Cilicia that was held at Istanbul in November 19992. During that meeting, I had the chance to discuss the historical and urban dynamics of Diokaisareia with Ulrich Gotter and Kai Trampedach at the very moment in which they, together with Detlev Wannagat, were planning to undertake a programme of research within the city.

The Turkish authorities' permit to carry out survey, Detlev Wannagat's kind invitation to participate, and a combination of other circumstances made it possible for me to co-ordinate survey and start study of the theatre of Diokaisareia in August-September 2003.

Field-work was performed with the untiring and irreplaceable collaboration of Luca Lanteri and Giuseppe Romagnoli. Together with the author they saw to the instrumental and direct measurements of the monument. The final products of this campaign of graphic documentation were the planimetry of the existing structures and the collapsed architectural elements, which were visible only after a cleaning that was hasty (on account of limited time and means available), and the transversal section-perspective of the monument (folding plans I, II). These two items were drawn up on the scale 1:50, which was chosen so as to document as best possible any and all evidence that might prove useful to reconstructing the monument's history.

At the same time that these relief-studies were executed, a catalogue was made of the architectural elements (with additions made during a brief stay in 2005). However, these elements were neither removed nor displaced, and it is for this reason that some observations are in complete and some data (especially regarding dimensions) are missing.

The information gathered in the field was subsequently re-worked in various ways so as to permit different types of end-products. These were aimed not only at the present work, but also to aid in our understanding and check hypotheses as they were progressively formulated in the course of our study. For these latter, readers are referred to the Appendix I. It is in this context that the 3D reconstruction was realized. In part modelled by Corrado Vaccarella, it was completed by Nicoletta Borgia, who integrated it with rendering and final restitution.

Considered as a whole, the present study undoubtedly has some lacunae due to the fact that the monument in question has not been completely brought to light and because of the absence of excavation data. On the other hand, the chance to study a building in a good state of preservation and the possibility of contributing to filling in one of the gaps in our knowledge of the architecture of Cilicia during the Roman epoch have seemed sufficiently valid reasons for undertaking this study.

Even though the theatre of Diokaisareia is located in a region that was completely Greek-speaking during the Imperial period, I have preferred to use an almost exclusively Latin nomenclature for architecture in view of the fact that
this provides a complete and unambiguous series of terms
for a monument that displays elements from both the
Greek and Roman traditions. The exception to this rule is
my use of the term analemma, which is aimed at indicating
the retaining wall of the cavea upon the sides of the scaena.
As far as the articulation of the structures of the scaena are concerned, I have resorted to the most commonly used terminology despite the slight changes that have occurred over time in the definition of the individual elements. These definitions are illustrated in pl. 1.1. The drawings and photographs provided here document what remains were visible in 2003. With the exception of some blocks of the scaena that belong to the structure's collapse and which have recently been moved, this situation has remained substantially unchanged in the following years. With a view to facilitating the identification of wall remains, traces or other elements, I have resorted to a progressive and uninterrupted numbering system of the surviving structures. This system of reference is indicated in the text by the printing of a bold-faced number within parentheses, e.g. (7). The complete map for these references is provided in plan A.

Unless otherwise indicated, the order followed in describing the individual mouldings is from top to bottom. For these the reader is referred to the chapters specifically dedicated to them.

As regards the ancient metrological units, I have adopted for the Roman foot a standard reference corresponding to 0,296 m. I am aware that this is merely a convention, since this ancient unit of measure oscillates and it is impossible to have an unambiguous and irrefutable unit of references.

The iconographic apparatus (unless otherwise indicated) is the work of the author. The shadings for figs. 27-31, 36, 40-41, 45, 50 and 52-53 were done by Emiliano Li Castro.