The Roman Theatre

The Roman Theatre

This theatre was discovered at Kom El-Dikka area by the Polish expedition in 1960 when they were removing the remains of the Old Napoleonic fort. This theatre is the only one discovered in Alexandria and it dates back to the First and Second Centuries A.D.

The theatre consists of auditorium and skene and between them, there is the place of the orchestra.

This theatre passed through several alterations (changes):

1) At first, the diameter of the theatre was 42 meters, and the number of the steps of the auditorium is not known.

2) Then, in the 3rd Century A.D, when the façade of this theatre collapsed, the diameter of the theatre was reduced to 33.5 meters while the number of the steps became 16.

3) In the 6th Century A.D, the open air theatre was converted into a closed assembly hall for religious ceremonies after they had carried out the following steps:
I. They reduced the number of steps to 13, while the diameter remained the same 33.5 meters.
II. They extended the either side of the auditorium and the skene and thus the shape of the theatre changed from half-circle into semi-circle.
III. They built a triple arcade in the skene and they covered the whole building by a dome.

This building was not on a sound architectural basis, therefore after a short period of time, the dome collapsed and the theatre was deserted. The theatre of Alexandria when collapsed killed 572 people in 435/6 during the all night festival of the Nile. It was used as the bouleuterion for the boule (council) and as a place for entertainment. The steps of the theatre are made of marble except for the lower step which was made of red granite. The floor of the skene is decorated with mosaic taking the shape of some geometrical motifs such as circle, rectangle, and triangle, etc……..


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