Date visited: 9.11.99
Earlier theatre ('theatrical area' / odeon?) in hillside
above earlier temple (Ionic, 3rd-4th century B.C.).
Theatre and Temple both face down hillside.
Temple surrounded on 3 sides by retaining wall (also temenos?),
but sufficient space to walk between temple and wall.
Earlier temple, theatrical area. Big, big
question-mark. Spoke to the excavator in Rome, perhaps
one of these cases where it starts out with a question-mark,
next time mentioned and so on, and then suddenly without
a question mark, and then just referred to as a real thing
bearing that in mind.
Plan of theatre-temple complex from Teatri Greci e Romani
Click here for further plans
and drawings of this site.
Later (second half of 2nd century B.C.) theatre and temple
(traditionally ascribed to Herakles, but no concrete indications)
built c. 200 m. to North of old theatre and temple, and
at twice the size of the first. Possibly uses materials
from first theatre &// temple, but there is no hard
evidence of this. But now the spatial relationship
between theatre and temple is inverted: both still face
West down the hillside, but now the temple is above the
theatre. Scaenae frons and temple facade
are centred upon each other. Moreover, at the
'apex' of the cavea, there are steps to the bottom of the
temple steps (leading up to the altar and facade).
These steps serve as access to the upper cavea seats, but
also open a strong visual connection between theatre and
To either side of the temple (N and S) are foundations of
buildings, function unknown. (cf. buildings at rear
of Cales cavea.) Karina: 'probably a porticus on each
side of temple.'
Exterior wall of cavea is opus polygonalis.
No neighbouring town. It is locus of pan-Samnite
festival (&/ council?), which included theatrical performances.
As Samnite region had no major towns, only villages, this
centre constituted focus of regional identity. There
were 12-16 such Samnite centres.
2-D reconstruction of 2nd century centre displayed at site
View east from post-scaenam through porta regis across cavea
Telemon and end seats of proedria (N). [Semicircular
steps cf. small theatre at Pompey.]
View west from temple across altar towards theatre.
Steps from 'apex' of cavea visible just beyond altar.
View north-west from temple pediment towards steps at rear
View west from rear of cavea towards scaenae frons.
View north-east along opus polygonalis of exterior
wall of cavea towards temple.
We have hard copy of Il Santuario di Pietrabbondante,
published by Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali.
Notes from Teatri Greci e Romani
Regio IV, Samnium at Sabina
Graeco-Roman theatre. It belongs to a theatre-temple
complex built in successive stages on the basis of a single
project. Facing south-east.
Built in the 2nd century B.C., it was no longer used
after the sanctuary was abandoned following the social
The semicircular cavea rests partly on natural land and
partly on backfill. The lower part rests on the
slope, but the upper part is completed by an embankment
supported by a wall built in opus polygonalis.
The proedria consists of three rows of stone seats with
backrests. The seats end at the two extremities
closest to the scaena with two armrests decorated
with the paws of winged griffens. Two short semicircular
flights of steps rise up to the parodoi and to
a passageway. Seven small flights lead from the
passageway to the upper part of the cavea.
It would appear that the cavea's steps were not stone
but wooden, and that the only structures consist of small
walls containing the embankment. There is a small
entrance in the wall terracing the cavea, on the same
axis as the theatre (like the temple built at the rear).
The analemmata, built in opus polygonalis,
are formed higher up by a cornice, which is oblique to
the orchestra and teminates lower down with two Telamons.
There are two arches linking the analemmata to
the extremities of the scaena. They culminate
in two broad [capital gamma]-shaped parodoi providing
access to the public.
For historical reasons, the scaena was not modified
during the Roman era. It was built in brickwork.
The corners and ends, built in opus quadratum,
can be clearly seen. The proscaenium is thought
to have had an architectural decoration with five doors
between small fluted semicolumns and a cornice featuring
ovolos and dentels. The scaenae frons is
thought to have been a bare wall bereft of decoration
(there are still blocks on which mobile sets were put
in place) onto which the three doors opened. The
stage building is divided into six rooms separated by
a corridor for each door of the scaenae frons.
Behind it, there are the remains of a portico.
State of preservation:
almost the entire top of the wall containing the embankment
of the cavea and the analemmata is missing.
Only a very small part of the elevation is preserved.
The parts built in opus polygonalis are generally
in poor, and sometimes very bad static condition.
diameter of the cavea: 54 m.
diameter of the orchestra: 11 m.
height of the cavea: 7.15 m.
width of the scaena: 37.30 m.
depth of the scaena: 10.10 m.
Current utilisation of the theatre;
it is used for theatrical performances.
M.J. STRAZZULLA, Un santuario sannitico di Pietrabbondante,
A. LA REGINA, Il Sannio, in Hellenismus in Mittelitalien,
I. Gottingen 1976, p.219 ss.
H. LAUTER, Die Hellenistischen Theater der Samniten
und Latiner in ihrer Beziehung zur Theaterarchitektur
der Griechen, in Hellenismus in Mittelitalien,
II, Gottingen 1976, p.413 ss.
A. LA REGINA, F. COARELLI, Abruzzo, Molise, Bari
M.FUCHS 1987, pp.129-145.
K.MITENS 1988, pp.162-165.
C.COURTOIS 1989, pp.55-60.
Significance for TPP
Theatre-temple complex pre-dating TP, with temple in similar
relation to cavea as in TP although situated on a natural
slope. If there was an earlier 4th century temple-theatre
complex to South of this, the later site inverted the spatial
Social/political/religious function of centre vis-a-vis
that of TP.