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Ephesus Main theater

Ephesus Main theater

This is the best-preserved and most impressive structure in Ephesus. The natural slope of the Panayır Dağı, on which the theater rests,  provided a good foundation for the structııre. reign of Lysimachos, The theater consists of three majör parts. These are the stage (skene), the orchestra in front of it, and the cavea, which holds the seats for the audience. The most ornate section was the stagehouse, almost 18 meters high. The façade facing the spectators had three stories decorated vvith columns.

Statues stood in the triangular or semicircular niches of its façade. The lowest story, which is stili intact, consists of a passage way running north-south, and eight rooırıs in a row along its western side.
The Hellenistic theater had a stage 2.5 to 3 meters wide and equally high. During the Roman empire, the stage was expanded to measure 6 meters high, and 25.5 meters long.

During the reign of Claudius (first century CE), the structure undervvent considerable changes to accommodate it to the theatrical customs of the time. The stage was retained, but it was expanded 3 meters forward into the orchestra. This structure, called the proskene, rested on top of two rows of columns, which are stili in their original location. Along with this, the ornate three-story façade of the stagehouse was constructed behind it. Niches, columns, and reliefs decorated the façade. The entrances on both sides of the orchestra vvere closed off and replaced with the tunnel-like ones that we see today. The one on the north side is stili well preserved. The eastern entrance was altered later. In addition to these, there vvere five entrances to the proskene from the main stagehouse. The middle gate was the largest, and the outer two, the smallest. Because of these divisions, the stage seems even larger.

The alterations begun on the structure under Claudius were completed under Traian (98- 117CE).
After the excavations, part of the second story could be re-erected. This has a somevvhat different floorplan than the first story: it has a long corridor with five doors opening onto the proskene. West of the corridor are two rows of rooms.

The diameter of the orchestra, vvhich is somevvhat greater than an exact semi-circle, measures 34 meters. During a performance, the choir would enter through the parodoi and stand on both sides of the orchestra, contributing to the performance vvith lines spoken in unison. Before a performance, a ritual commemorating Dionysos vvould customarily be performed at the altaı* stone in the çenter of the orchestra. The ancient theater had a close connection to culture, and was a democratic institution as vvell. Theater essentially combined all the arts, such as poetry, philosophy, the dramatic arts, and popular customs. Even though these may have been very different things, on the vvhole, they did have a close artistic and cultural relationship.

The orchestra in the Hellenistic period vvas smaller than the one that is visible today. In the Roman period, it vvas expanded by 5 meters, and paved vvith slabs of green marble. Many of these slabs are stili visible, and the rest were reconstructed on the basis of these.
The cavea, which extends around the semi-circular orchestra, is 38 meters high, and 154 meters wide. Two diazoma separate the cavea into three seating areas.

The staircases, called kerkides, have twelve steps. The theater has a seating capacity of 24,000.