The theatre of Heraclea Minoa

3d model and reconstruction

The theatre of Heraclea Minoa

For the reconstruction of the theatre and of the set we followed the study by De Miro, Il teatro di Eraclea Minoa, in Rendiconti Accademia dei Lincei XXI, 1966

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Short history of

The theatre of Heraclea Minoa

The theatre was built in the inlet of a hillock, opening toward the sea, which borders, on the North-western side, the flatland of the city.

The hillock on which the theatre is set is at 75 meters above the sea level. The koilon or cavea is open toward south, contrary to the suggestions of Vitruvius (De Architectura, V, 32) but following the layout of the theatre of Dionysos in Athens and the theatre of Syracuse. This orientation is certainly due to the nature of the terrain but it also offers spectators on the back rows a splendid sea view. The row seats are built with squared blocks and ten rows, at most, have been preserved; these rows are divided into nine sectors (kerkides) by eight small staircases (klimakes). The praecinctio, i.e.  the upper limit of the cavea, is cut into the rock and is m. 8,90 above the level of the orchestra.

A , m 0.70 wide passage room divides the koilon from the proedria (the first line of seats reserved for important persons) which was formed by a course of blocks with back and arms at the borders of the small staircases.

The orchestra has a diameter of m 16,70 and considerable depth, given that, as is the case with theatres in Athens, Eretria and Segesta, the circumference is entirely contained in the cavea which is prolonged at the wings

The euripos (a water drainage channel, m 1.25 wide) is located between the real orchestra and the ring of blocks which marks the limit of the lower part of koilon.

The analemmata, the support walls of the wings of the staircase, are built in squared blocks of masonry, constructed with the ashlar technique and are preserved up to a height of 3,50 m.

Archaeologists have recognized a number of other items from the stage area, including the cables for the fixing of the beams on a wooden platform used in the theatrical representations of the Phlyakes type and broadly diffused throughout Hellenistic Sicily.

The construction of the theatre can be dated to after the second half the 4th c. BC.  The building was abandoned around the 2nd – 1st  c. BC when some structures of the Primo Strato settlement are built on the analemmata. During this period it is possible to recognize architectural changes as, for example, with the euripus which was originally of terracotta and was rebuilt in stone. It is also possible to detect some further changes to the staircases of the cavea.