THE THEATRE OF THOURIA
Located in the Messinia region of southern Greece, close to the cities of Kalamata and Sparta, Thouria was a town built on the slopes of a mountain which dated from around 3,000BC, and even though little is known about it, it has been a notable archaeological excavation site for the last 20 years. Although its civilisation has faded from history, Thouria, or Thuria, is thought to have been the inspiration for Aepeia, a lost town mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, which was given to Achilles by Agamemnon along with six other Messinian cities, as an atonement for Agamemnon taking Achilles’ concubine for his own.
Given its size, Thouria seemed to have been a prosperous settlement, and many of its buildings have been remarkably well-preserved. In 2016, the remains of a theatre, one of the most important buildings in the ancient Greek world due to its connections with both art and politics, were discovered, which had not been noticed by previous archaeological surveys.
Tracks have been found carved among the almost perfectly-preserved foundations, along which stage sets would have been moved on wheeled platforms. Roman baths have also been found in the valley close to the old town, suggesting that the town’s inhabitants eventually moved from the mountain into the valley to be closer to the river Aris, as well as temples dedicated to various gods, but as of yet, no agora, or public forum, has been discovered.
By the 2nd Century AD, the town was already in ruins, as noted by the Greek geographer Pausanias, with the reasons for this decline remaining unknown. Since only a small part of the ancient town has been explored, there could yet be many more buildings and temples to be unearthed, reviving the history of a once-thriving ancient Greek culture.