Conservation and excavation of the theatre in 2019

December, 17 2019 | Ioannes Stobaeus


The activities of the Project for Conservation, Restoration and Excavation of the Roman Theatre at Stobi took place between the 15th of May and the 17th of November. It was financed with 3 800 000 MKD (around 62 000 EUR) from the Annual program of the Macedonian Ministry of Culture.


The archaeological excavation were focused on the substructure of the summa cavea i.e. two corridors between the radial walls and a segment of the outer circular corridor.  These corridors are located beneath the upper segment of the auditorium and they enabled the audience to access the building from outside and reach the seats. The excavations in 2019 revealed new passages and stairs that confirm the thesis that the building had similar system of circulation to other buildings for mass entertainment such as theatres and amphitheatres in the western part of the Empire. After the theatre was abandoned in the second half of the 4th century, the corridors were used as part of the dwellings of the population. These phases of occupation were mostly documented this year. Some of the uncovered walls were exposed to the height of around 6 metres and they still have to be excavated further.


The conservation and restoration activities were dispersed in two locations. Most of the time was devoted to the restoration and reconstruction of the lower segment of the auditorium that involved treatment of the vault above the east radial corridor and the bedding for the seats from the 12th to the 18th row. Nineteen original seat blocks, removed due to potential collapse during the excavations in 2012, were placed back in their original position. The conservation of the masonry in this part of the theatre has been completed and it opens the possibility for reconstruction of the marble seat blocks in order the building to be revitalized and accommodate contemporary cultural events. The second location of protective activities is the scene building where the remains of the first phase porches were conserved. These walls, located at the east and west end, were exposed to weathering for a long period of time which led to their bad condition. With the restoration in 2019 they are fully protected.


The conservation part of the project was directed by Dr. Trajche Nacev and the excavations were directed by Goce Pavlovski. The project involved the participation of NI Stobi professionals, collaborates and local workers, as well as professionals from the Queens University in Canada. The plan for 2020 is to conserve to the walls of the substructure of the upper segment of the auditorium and the marble elements of the scene building. Click here for photo gallery.

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