The Aphrodisias Theatre Was Built for Drama and Public Meetings:
The Aphrodisias Theatre is located in the south-eastern corner of the ancient city of Aphrodisias. It was built both for dramatic performances and for public meetings, but later on the theatre structure was altered to allow for gladiatorial combats and animal fights.
The Aphrodisias Theatre was built in the second half of the 1st century B.C. under the patronage of Gaius Julius Zoilus. Zoilus was believed to have been from Aphrodisias and was enslaved by pirates. He was freed by Octavian Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and returned to Aphrodisias a wealthy man. A number of the significant public buildings in Aprhodisias were paid for by Zoilus.
The Aphrodisias Theatre had a seating capacity of 7,000 persons. The two main components of the building are the auditorium, built up against a prehistoric settlement mound, and an elaborate three-storied marble stage building.
It was about 40°C when we visited and I thought twice about walking down the steep and slippery marble steps to the stage, knowing that I’d have to climb all the way up again. But this was the way the ancient citizens of Aphrodisias got to their theatre seats so I told myself that I really shouldn’t cop out! But the truth was more that Tony needed a scale for his shot and without a person down there it’s hard to show just how huge this theatre is.
An earthquake damaged the Theatre in the 7th century. When the site was excavated in the 1970s, much of the statuary that decorated the stage building were recovered in an excellent state of preservation. These included figures of Apollo, two Muses, Demos, two boxers, several Victories and a Polykleitan athlete, all of which are now on display in the Aphrodisias Museum.