Archaeologists may have located the ancient theater at the famed Greek city of Akragas

ancient-theater-greek-city-akragas_1Google Earth top-view of the possible theater at Akragas. Credit: AgrigentoSette

The ancient city of Akragas (or Ἀκράγας) in Sicily was one of the major Greek-populated settlements of Magna Graecia, during what is termed as the golden age of Greek city-states (circa 5th century BC). The city was originally founded in early 6th century by Greek colonists from Gela (in Sicily), and by the turn of the century it possibly had a population of more than 100,000 people. In fact, even after numerous political and military upheavals during the Punic Wars, the city managed to regain its prosperity, so much so that its inhabitants (the city being renamed Agrigentum) were granted Roman citizenship after the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

Even the Greek lyric poet Pindar, who hailed from ‘mainland’ Thebes, described Akragas as “the most beautiful city in the world inhabited by mortals”. Suffice it to say, given the scale and eminence of the ancient city, Akragas must have had its own theater. But unfortunately, in contrast to its Valle dei Templi (‘Valley of the Temples’), a World Heritage Site comprising some of the biggest and well-preserved ancient Greek Doric architectural specimens outside of Greece, archaeologists have not been able to find any trace of a theater – despite a series of excavations being carried out in the 70’s and 80’s.



Possibly remnants of the stone blocks at the site. Credit: ANSA

That might be until now, as a team of researchers from the University of Bari, believe that they may have just located the possible remnants of a theater inside the confines of the city. This location in question lies in proximity to the extant Church of Saint Nicholas. To that end, the archaeologists used magnetic scanning that apparently revealed a structure similar to the shape of a semi-circular plan. The scanning was also complemented by the possible remains of scattered stone blocks, some of which were stuck to the roots of the local almond trees.

Consequently, a full-scale excavation is planned ahead, starting from 10th October this year, with a grant of 2.8 million euro from European Union. And interestingly enough, the researchers are also looking forth to find the remains of an ancient hippodrome from the area.



View of the presumed location of the theater. Credit: AgrigentoSette


Source: ANSA

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