Archaeologists have uncovered an odeon in southwest Crete at the ruins of the ancient town of Lissos, an important stop for Mediterranean trade routes right across the main city of Cyrene.
Lissos, that is accessible only by sea had not been revisited by archaeologists in decades even though it is open to the public. It is accessible by a short boat trip or a two-hour hike from the nearby town of Sougia.
The odeon unearthed is similar to a modern auditorium and is indicative of the prosperity of the town even though it has been heavily damaged in antiquity by large falling boulders, likely as the result of a powerful earthquake in A.D. 365.
The theatre is near a temple to Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine; a residential area; and a cemetery with two-story tombs; Roman baths; and Christian churches.
Katerina Tzanakaki deputy head of the Department of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and Museums at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Chania, directed the new project.
“Odeons were used for lectures, literary and musical contests or theatrical performances,” she told Live Science explaining that her team has found part of the stage, 14 rows of seats and two vaulted side chambers.
According to Tzanakaki, the site was used as a bouleuterion, a building for meetings of the city council.
The odeon, which dates to the Roman period, was hit by “a tsunami with destructive force as far away as Alexandria, Egypt, was associated with the earthquake. The whole site of Lissos was uplifted by several meters, so the town would have been larger than today and the theatre thus closer to the coast”, according to Jane Francis, a classical archaeologist at Concordia University in Montreal who was not involved in this project, but has investigated the happenings of that historical period.
“The discovery of a public service building at a central point of the ancient city, near the temple to Asclepius, adds new information to the archaeological and historical horizon of the area,” the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports said in a statement. “There aren’t many well-preserved theatres on Crete and even fewer bouleuteria.”