Ancient theater reclaims original identity

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 25.07.2016 01:35

The excavation works in the 2,000-year-old Roman theater located in İznik, which was home to Romans for centuries, aims to turn the remains into an actual theater that functions for the locals. The only surviving Roman theater that remains in the Marmara region are currently undergoing renovations. Speaking to news agencies, Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Recep Altepe stressed İznik's historical importance and stated that the excavations and renovations in the ancient open air theater will continue at full speed. "The Roman theater has gone through huge destruction throughout its history. Our metropolitan municipality managed to launch the excavation and renovation works about a year ago," said mayor Altepe.

Previously, the excavations in the Roman theater only took place a couple of months a year. However, the excavation team from Dokuz Eylül University's Department of Archaeology has decided to continue their work throughout the year. Mayor Altepe said: "Currently, the excavation team, with the help of the academics of İzmir Dokuz Eylül University, is working hard to restore the ancient theater according to its original state. The archaeologists are working to find the original floor of the theater while picking up and designating the stones that have fallen down over the centuries. Once the restoration is finished, the theater will open for locals and tourists in İznik after having been closed for 2,000 years."

Altepe underscored that the theater's architectural features are very unique and continued, "There are few examples similar to the Roman theater in İznik and the one in Antalya province. This project will add value to Bursa's İznik district, which carries the traces of various civilizations that left their mark on the history of the world."

Associate Professor Aygün Ekin Meriç of the Department of Archaeology at Dokuz Eylül University said their priority in the excavations is to find the original floor of the building and erect the huge door that was standing at the entry.

The Roman theater in İznik is located within the city walls. According to the letter written by Bithynia governor Plinius to the Roman Emperor Trainaus in 111 B.C., the theater's construction had begun many years ago but was uncompleted despite the fact the empire spent a great deal of money on it. The letter also mentions cracks on the benches of the theater. However, it is not clear whether the theater was later used by the Romans or not. Recent archaeological excavations revealed the theater was later demolished and that the stones of the structure were used in other constructions. The fact that the martyrs killed during the Latin invasion of Constantinople were buried in the corridors of the theater makes it certain that the theater was not used from the 13th century onward.

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