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The Theater of Dionysus:
Platform T and Footing Wall


N.B. The viewer will find it useful to consult the state plan of the site.

The image below shows Platform T, the precise form and function of which remains a mystery.

[Image 1]

Platform T viewed from the northwest

Photograph by John Porter

Platform T stood in the center of the fifth-century skenê. The fact that it is made of the same conglomerate limestone as the footing wall and is bonded to the footing wall shows that it is a contemporary construction, but the motivation for such a substantial foundation is obscure, particularly given that the skenê proper seems to have made do with wooden posts anchored, presumably, in stone sockets (as at Pergamon). Unfortunately (as the image shows) the blocks have been disturbed: little is certain beyond the general outline of the platform. One theory is that this platform provided a foundation for the mechanê or crane which came into use in the latter part of the fifth century at the latest.


It is generally argued that the fifth-century skenê was made largely of wood. This notion is not without its difficulties: wood was relatively scarce in Greece, and a skenê capable of allowing, e.g., Medea to appear on its roof in a chariot pulled by dragons would have to be fairly substantial — so substantial, one might argue, that a skenê made of stone would have seemed more practical.

One good sign that wood was used, however, are the ten large postholes still evident in the footing wall, five on either side of Platform T. An image of one of these postholes appears below. (The green object at the bottom is the top of a rucksack.)

[Image 2]

Posthole in the footing wall

Photograph by John Porter


The image below gives some idea of how archeologists are able to reconstruct the development of the theater over time. It shows the west end of the footing wall, viewed from the west, with foundations for the later stone skenê leading off to the left (north). Notice that the foundations leading to the left are not bonded to the footing wall: this indicates that they are a later addition, necessitated when a permanent stone skenê replaced the fifth-century wooden structure.

[Image 3]

Return at west end of footing wall, viewed from the west

Photograph by John Porter


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Last Modified: Monday, 23-Jun-2008 18:23:32 CST
Please send queries and comments to john.porter@usask.ca.