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A New Excavation


The Background

Early Research

The First Season (2002)

The Archaeological Investigations of 2003


By James Packer

The Background

Unfortunately, the Pompey Project’s modern plans, sections, and elevations of the Theater’s existing remains, and the “Archaeological Register” produced only uncertain information about the Theater’s physical fabric. Consequently, in June, 2001, Architect Silenzi and Professor Packer  applied to the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome for a permit for a new excavation and asked permission for the excavation from Tata Giovanni, the ecclesiastical institute that owns  Palazzo Pio.

This excavation would eventually provide a more accurate ground-floor plan of the Theater under the cavea with respect to stairways and internal corridors. It would recover important and securely documented fragments of architecture (and perhaps sculpture) from the upper levels of the theater. It would produce post-antique materials that would illuminate the history of the zone and perhaps demonstrate the slow stages by which the  Theater had disappeared under the predecessors of the modern buildings in the neighborhood.

These finds would be similar to those recovered by Daniele Manacorda in the now famous Crypta Balbi, the semicircular room attached to the peristyle behind the neighboring theater of Balbus.

Theater of Balbus in the later Middle Ages   The Theater of Balbus in antiquity
Fig. 1. The nearby Theater of Balbus in the later Middle Ages showing how private houses took over the ancient structure.   Fig. 2. The Theater of Balbus in antiquity. The“Crypta Balbi” is the open, semicircular structure behind the court in back of the theater.


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