Sunday, July 16, 2017


ANCIENT Greek theatres had movable wooden stages on stone tracks to swap scenes, and even hold dressing rooms for actors, according to new findings.

An ancient storage room and three stone rows discovered at the Messene Theatre in Greece have offered new clues on the complex structures used by thespians 2,000 years ago.

Researchers in Japan say there likely was once a wooden stage at the theatre – and, they suspect it may have been equipped with one and two-story stage backgrounds that could be moved in and out of place on wooden wheels.

The discovery bears similarities to structures seen at the Megalopolis and Sparta theatres, and the experts say it lines up with ancient literary accounts of rotating stage devices used in both Greece and Rome.

Researchers from the History of Western Architecture Laboratory of Kumamoto University discovered the large storage room and three stone rows during an excavation at Messene in 2007.

Further examination of the site, compared with previous discoveries made in Megalopolis and Sparta, suggests that the rows would have been used as tracks for large wheeled structures known as a ‘proskenion’ and a ‘skene.’

The proskenion was a one-story structure that was placed on the stage and served as a background, the researchers explain.

The skene, on the other hand, would have been a two-story structure placed behind the proskenion, acting as a dressing room and another stage background. In the past, some have suggested that these structures moved as one along three stone rows.

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