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  • Theatre of Phoinike
  • Finiq
  • Phoinike
  • Albania
  • Qarku i Vlorës
  • Delvinë District

Credits

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Monuments

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Periods

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Chronology

  • 200 BC - 300 AD

Season

    • In 2001 the University of Bologna, in collaboration with the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, began an excavation in the area of the ancient theatre at Foinike to collect data relating to the theatre and to define its typology. The excavations were located mainly in the southern area of the monument: the area of scaenae frons, the frontal part of the scaena, the pulpitum wall and the area to the east of the hyposcaenium. During the season a series of constructions were discovered, including the scaenae frons wall, which was built with quadrangle tiles bonded with lime mortar. Approximately 4 m. to the east of scaenae frons, the frontal wall of the pulpitum was revealed, preserving little of its construction elements. To the west side of the hyposcaenium the remains of a drainage channel were discovered, used to collect rainfall from the area of the orchestra. To the north of the pulpitum wall, the northern wall of the scaenae frons was also discovered, measuring about 3 m high. Later interventions to this wall were recorded, especially in layers 100, 109, 110 and 104. The archaeological material comprises mainly pottery, especially black glazed.
    • The excavations this season were aimed at discovering the early phases of the theatre and to reach conclusions concerning its architectonical structure. The excavations were located in the terrace area, the western entrance and in part of the Hellenistic proscenium. In the terrace area the southern wall of the theatre was discovered, constructed in two phases along with the remains of the sustaining walls. The excavations in this area were stopped, due to the demolition risk. A few remains were found in the western analema including a 15 m long wall. In the proscenium area the remains of a wall were recorded, placed on the foundation level and orientated east-west. During this season, continued excavation in the area of the scaenae frons revealed three main entrances, used to give access to the proscenium. A number of sondages were also undertaken during this season - sondage numbers 4, 7 and 10. Sondage 4 was located in the area of the proscenium, in a refilled hole, representing a grave closed after the construction of the pulpitum. In the same area sondages 7 and 10 revealed no trace of the orchestra floor wall. Pottery, metal objects and coins were recovered during this excavation season.
    • The 2003 excavations in the ancient theatre of Foinike were located in three areas: South of the scaena, the area between the western analema and the orchestra, and the western part of the scaena. The terrace system was found to continue westwards and consisted of a series of rooms. A humus layer covers all the terracing walls. The area between the analema and the orchestra was excavated using a JCB machine to remove the topsoil in order to reach the level of the orchestra. The excavations to the south of the analema revealed remains of the entrance (parodos), which consisted of a number of stone quadrangle blocks and represents the main entrance to the ancient Greek theatre. At the end of the season, the revealed structures were backfilled.
    • The excavations for this season in the ancient theatre were located in three areas: the terracing walls, the scaena and the orchestra. The excavations in the terraced area clarified its construction, and uncovered the lower part of the western wall which was used as a supporting wall for the terracing. Toward the east several interruptions were noticed in the wall, which are related to two entrances, each 2 m wide. Discoveries in the scaena area were very important, revealing three doorways which were used to pass from the scaena to the proscaenium. The middle doorway was higher then the other two. Excavation of the pulpitum wall was also concluded, uncovering the terminal part of the eastern side. In the area between the scaena and the pulpitum, a sculpture base was discovered with a completely invisible inscription that might have been dedicated to a Roman imperator, possibly Nero. In the area of the orchestra, important finds included several stone slabs and a statue head with female features. Beneath abandonment layers part of the diazoma, prohedria or drainage channel were discovered. A sondage along the northern wall of the pulpitum showed that it had cut through one Roman and three Hellenistic layers. The excavations indicated that the reconstruction of the Roman scaena was undertaken on earlier Roman makeup layers.
    • This season’s excavations at the ancient theatre of Phoenice were located mostly within the orchestra. A major part of the diasoma and the canal were found to be well preserved. The clearing from the canal of abandonment deposits revealed its form and function in an earlier phase. Also of interest was the discovery of a platform above the orchestra that may have served as a seat for poets. During the season several restorative interventions were also undertaken, including the replacement of decaying bricks within the scaenae frons. Further interventions were concentrated along the wall of the pulpitum where fragmented stone was replaced. The frons pulpiti, which was in a bad state of repair, was also repaired using complementary materials.
    • Excavations in 2006 were located in three areas of the theatre: in the orchestra, the summa cavea, and the eastern annalema. Investigations of the orchestra zone led to several significant conclusions regarding its shape and size and it was confirmed that during the Roman period, the orchestra extended up to the proedria. The pavement was missing. A canal bringing in water constructed from large white slabs was also revealed in a small sondage. Material from inside the canal dated the structure to the 2nd Century AD. The excavation extended to the circular street which was paved with flagstones. Another sondage close to the wall revealed traces of an unpaved structure, which may have functioned as a bakehouse or dwelling. In contrast to the western annalema, the eastern annalema was found to have been constructed from in-situ bedrock. An inscription was found in the lower section.
    • The excavation of the year 2008 in the theatre area revealed very interesting data regarding the cavea area. Important data also came from the excavations in the analema and the terracing system. The opening of a channel around the orchestra confirmed that the eastern ima cavea and the middle part of the eastern cavea were destroyed not only by the robbing but also by the destruction of the analema. The central cavea is better preserved. The excavation proved that the seats of the eastern cavea were carved directly in the stone. Remains of the klimakes, diazoma and the seats were also discovered. The klimakes were built with lime stones and interrupted by a parapet. A sondage undertaken 2 m above this area revealed some stone slabs on which might have been laid the seats.
    • The investigations of 2009 carried out in the theatre of the ancient city of Phoinike were located in four trenches of different dimension and at two large scale excavations. The opening of trench 14 next to the southern wall of the western parodos of the theatre, intended to reveal materials from the layers abutting the structure, and understand if the parodos belongs to the first or the second phase of the Hellenistic period. The soil layers up to the floor level of parodos contained pottery remains of the Roman period (1st – 3rd Centuries AD). The upper levels of these layers seem to relate to the reconstruction time of the structure, after the earthquake of the early 3rd Century AD. Below it, layers with materials of the Hellenistic period (3rd – 2nd Centuries BC) were revealed, which seem to belong to the construction phase of the parodos. The dating of the material suggests that the parodos was constructed during the theatre’s second phase as the enlargement of the orchestra led to the expansion of the _proskenion_. In order to discover parts of the tiered seating, trench 15 (1, 5 x 1, 5 m) was opened in the theater’s _koilon_. The excavation revealed the in situ slabs used for holding the feet and enabling the passageways, whiles the parallelepiped seating stone blocks were found not in their original place, perhaps shifted for being re-used as building material elsewhere. The stair blocks were also missing due to the same reason. The excavations in the theatre’s orchestra were located at the eastern _analemma_, where a long trench (trench 17, measuring to 5 m x 1, 5 m) was dug. It intended to identify the preeminent part of the _analemma_, which until now was filled with soil deposits. Under the deposit, to a depth of 50 cm, a part of this structure was revealed; it was badly preserved to a length of 3, 5m. The upper stone rows (partly preserved) did not appear to rise up gradually, as a structure of this type should normally stand; on the contrary, due to the damage scale, it continued following the same standing level. The anomaly occurred, relate also to the increasing hill slope and soil deposits at the most preeminent part of the _analemma_. Trench 16 was dug in the theatre’s _summa cavea_, in the vicinity of a circular structure of the Byzantine period, initially revealed during 2006 field season. The discovery during that year of a 3-2nd Centuries BC pottery layer, mixed with shells and bones remain was interpreted as a midden but contextually related to the Byzantine structure and the Hellenistic wall at the back part of the _koilon_. The excavations of this year noticed two different construction phases at the Byzantine structure, which was most likely a kiln: the construction of the first phase (floor level and the surrounding wall) was built with reused rectangular and curved bricks of the Hellenistic period, probably taken from a nearby grave; in the second phase the structure was rearranged (preserving the same function), and the brick masonry was replaced by a stone block construction. The excavations undertaken to the north of the kiln revealed the theatre entrance which consisted of two wall lines of sandy stone blocks. Abundant materials of the Hellenistic period were uncovered in the demolishing and the filling layers of the theatre’s door entrance. Some of the pottery vessels were almost completely preserved, which confirmed the hypothesis that this layer might have slipped down due to the demolishing of the terracing structures. The presence of the funerary pottery vessels (pelike of the first half of the 4th Century BC.), graves curved tiles and remains of human skeletons, suggest for the existence of a cemetery, earlier in date then the theatre, located above the supporting wall of the _koilon_.

Bibliography

    • S. De Maria, Sh. Gjongecaj, 2003, Phoinike II rapporto preliminare sulla campagna di scavi e ricerche 2001, Bologna.
    • S. De Maria, Sh. Gjongecaj, 2005, Phoinike III rapporto preliminare sulla campagna di scavi e ricerche 2002-2003, Bologna.
    • S. De Maria, Sh. Gjongecaj, 2007, Phoinike IV rapporto preliminare sulla campagna di scavi e ricerche 2004-2006, Bologna.
    • http://www.phoinike.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=4&id=24&Itemid=84
    • S. De Maria et. al., 2009, Campagne di scavi 2009, L’area della basilica bizantina, in http://www.phoinike.com/content/view/124/86/