Theatre at Leptis Magna

What year were Hadrian’s baths built?
What were the name of the saunas?
What were the changing rooms called?
What was the name for the hot room?
What was the name for the warm room?
What was the name for the cold room?
What was the word for the outside exercise
8. What was the name for the outside cold pool?
9. What is the name of the city the baths were
built in?
10. What is the name of the country they were built
1. -126 - 127 AD
2. Laconica
3. Apodyteria
4. Caldarium
5. Tepidarium
6. Frigidarium
7. Palaestra
8. Natatio
9. Leptis (lepcis) magna
10. Libya
Theatre at Leptis Magna
AD 1-2
Background information
Leptis Magna is located on the coast of
Tripolitania, North Africa. The city was
established in the time of Augustus.
Archelogical evidence of the city shows that
before it was a Roman province, it was a
Phonecian (Punic) trading harbour.
This strongly influenced the city’s art and
architecture, and gave it a unique flavour.
By the end of the 2nd century BC, Leptis Magna
was one of the wealthiest provincial cities in the
Roman Empire.
Read the pages entitled ‘The Theatre’ in your
This piece is named the
Theatre at Lepcis Magna
Theatre at Leptis Magna
……Both are correct
Cavea = semi-circular seating area
Scaena frons = stage backdrop
Velarium = sunshade
Vomitorium = vaulted passages
Skene = stage building
Proscaenium = front stage area
Orchestra = half circle centre of theatre
Pulpitum = stage
Tribunalia = official boxes for magistrates
Praecinctiones = horizontal walkways that divide up each
tier of seating
Postscaenium = group of rooms behind the scaenae frons
where actors could prepare
See p. 28 of Paul Artus - draw/sketch into your workbooks &
label & annotate the parts
Details for your workbooks:
Location: On the Mediterranean coastline, in
Libya, North Africa. The Roman province,
Architectural type: Theatre (functional)
Purpose: Entertainment venue
Dates of construction: AD1-2, built by Annabal
Rufus (wealthy citizen of Leptis Magna) – His
name has both Carthaginian (Punic) & Roman
elements, showing the ethnic mix of the city. He
also built a market in Leptis Magna in 9-8BC.
Changes made to the theatre after
its construction:
Soon after construction: Tribunalia or ‘official boxes’ were
built over the side entrance. A colonnade at the top of the
seating area was built.
AD 35-6: a temple to Ceres-Augusta was built on the upper
walkway of the area (when Tiberius was emperor)
AD43 (time of emperor Claudius): the temple of the deified
emperors (Di Augusti) built in AD43 built behind the
scene building
AD91: had an octangular altar put at the front of the bottom
shallow step in AD91 by Tiberius Claudius Sextius
Mid-2nd century AD: Under the emperor Antoninus Pius, the
orginal grey limestone – columns on the scanae frons
were replaced by marble
Exterior decoration is plain. There are monumental masonry blocks
with a ring of engaged pilasters
5 arched openings provide access to the internal corridors and
The middle and upper tier of the seating (cavea) are the only visible
Cavea (90m in diameter) is designed in the typical semi-circular
shape favoured by the Romans.
Leading members of Leptis Magna society entered through their
own entrances, either side of the theatre, & sat right at the front on
ornate marble thrones (called bisellia), these thrones had legs
carved as lion’s paws.
These aristocrats were separated from the rest of the audience by a
low marble bench
Marble alter to an unknown male god was placed on the steps,
along the theatre’s central axis
At the very top of the seating (cavea) behind the upper tier, a
colonnade of corinthian columns, in the centre of it is the temple to
Ceres Augusta (which dates from the time of
Religious practices of the Romans:
Theatre was seen as a religious practice –
going to the theatre was honouring the god of
the theatre, Dionysus. Often at the beginning of
performances a prayer & libation would be
made to Dionysus. Aspects of this theatre which
reflected the religious practices of the Romans
include the statues in the niches behind the
There is a temple to Ceres -Augusta located at
the top of the Cavea.
There is a bust of Hercules and Dionysus, the
patron deities of the city.
Imperial propaganda
A Temple dedicated to deified emperor’s was built within
the theatre precinct, located behind the stage buildings.
Title ‘Augusta’ attached to the name of the goddess
Use of Roman features of decoration
Use of limestone
This all showed that even the furthermost areas of the
empire, the emperor exerted control, and how great
Rome was & showed that Lepcis Magna was a great and
civilised city.
Complete your sketch of the theatre & its
Complete previous exam questions in your
Paul Artus book, p.29
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