Mikrothives Ancient Theater
The Theatre of Phthiotidai Thebes, which has not yet been fully excavated, is located on the east side of the ancient town of Phthiotidai Thebes, on the north natural slope of the “Kastro” hill, east of the modern village of Mikrothives and 4 km south of the modern Municipality of Nea Anchialos and the Pagasetic Gulf.
The Theatre of Phthiotidai Thebes is Hellenistic. There was also a Roman phase, however, when large-scale interventions were carried out to turn the Theatre into an arena. There may also have been an earlier phase dated to the late 4th c. BC, as indicated by the presence of coins, stratified pottery and a section of a limestone column.
To the Hellenistic phase belong: the 15 tiers of seats of volcanic rock, the eight staircases dividing the main theatre into nine cunei, the paved passageway and the retaining walls of the parodoi. The seats are 0.33m. high, 1.40m. long and 0.60m. wide.
To the Roman period belong: the stage building - which consists of four rooms with a basement, a corridor between them and the proscenium with a monumental two-storey colonnade of columns with Ionic capitals and bases - the parascenia, the perimetric cover of the orchestra drainage duct and the protective balustrade around the orchestra, made of reused seats into which were set protective railings and awnings. In order to turn the theatre into an arena, it was necessary, apart from the protective measures, to widen the orchestra, which was achieved by removing one tier of seats, probably the seats of honour (proedriae). The Hellenistic orchestra has not been excavated. At the end of the Roman period, in Early Christian times, a one-room building was erected on the site of the theatre.
With a maximum capacity of 3,000 spectators, the Theatre of Phthiotidai Thebes was used for ancient drama, musical contests and, in the Roman period, wild beast fights and gladiatorial games.
The site of the theatre on the slope of the “Kastro” Hill ensured very good acoustics. This, combined with the uninterrupted view of the town and its harbour Pyrassos, the Pagasetic Gulf and the famous plain of Crocion, make the structure a basic witness to the aesthetics, prosperity and power of the “most splendid city” of Phthiotidai Thebes.
The Theatre of Phthiotidai Thebes was identified and excavated in 1992 and 1993 by V. Adrymi-Sismani, in the context of a Air Force General Staff (GEA) project, based on information provided by 19th-century travellers (W. Leake) and F. Stählin, and the discovery by D. Theocharis and G. Hourmouziadis (1970) of a funerary stele with the inscription “BAKXIOΣ ΔIONYΣIOΣ” (“BACCHIOS DIONYSIOS”) and a terracotta tragic mask, which were considered evidence that the town had actors and a cultural life.
The excavation in the area of the theatre has not been completed and naturally no reconstruction work has been carried out. Only a central test trench was made to locate the theatre and confirm its existence. The aim of current research is to reveal this important monument, which will then require reconstruction work, in order to open it to the public and allow it to host performances of ancient drama and other arts events. The fact that the monument is built entirely of local volcanic rock, a particularly durable material which has not been subject to stone-robbing, is an element in favour of future reconstruction and use of the monument as a theatre.