THE ANCIENT THEATRE
The most interesting of all the sites in
Hierapolis, after the Pamukkale travertines, is undoubtedly the ancient theatre. Although rather smaller than other specimens that have survived in equally good condition it is well worth careful examination on account of its beautifully preserved marble reliefs.
Although at first glance its location on the slope of a hill gives the impression of a Greco-Roman structure, its method of construction, employing vaults and arches, is typical of the Roman period. Although, according to some sources, it could hold over 10,000 spectators, t1e most optimistic estimate would give no more than 8,500. Construction of the threatre was begun under Hadrian in the first half of the 2nd century, but was completed only about a hundred years later during the reign of
Septimus Severus. The cavea is divided by eight stairways set at regplar intervals, with twenty tiers of seats up tp the level of the diazoma and twenty-five! tiers above it.
The facade of the stase building is an exquisite example of the art of stonecarving and is adorned yith carvings in high relief of a very
high plastic and artistic quality.
Although these relief mainly represent
mythological stories rela ed to Apollo, the large number of ornaments in the form of oyster shells are reminiscent of Aphrodite. A large number of the rJliefs unearthed during the archaeological excavations carried out in the theatre are exhibited in the local museum in
the Roman baths.
The marble artefacts Iscattered over a wide area in front of the theatre include a number of very interesting masks and other decorative elements.