Stadium

   The city getting wealthier through commerce built many monuments and paid attention to sports and culture. The Stadium is located in the southwest quarter of the city extending in the northwest-southeast direction. Measuring 285x70 m the Stadium could host about 20-25.000 people. It was built entirely on natural ground with double sphendones and all the rows of seats are of marble.

     The inscription on the western entrance is known since the seventeenth century and reads as follow: “Nicostratus, youngest son of Lycias Nicostratus, had this stadium built with his own property for Emperor Titus Caesar Augustus Vespasian, divine son of Vespasian, and consul for the seventh time. His inheritor Nicostratus had it completed and Proconsul Marcus Ulpius Traianus was blessed by the People.” This date corresponds to AD 79 and the monument was dedicated to Emperor Titus (r. 79-81).

     The rows of seats in the north, southwest and western sphendone have survived in better condition. The rows of seats are divided into 34 sections by stairways and 25 rows are discerned on the north side. Some rows have stonemasons’ marks of one or three letters as monograms on their front sides. All the rows have clear signs of shifts and deformations caused by earthquakes.

     Until the Roman period stadia hosted athletic competitions such as sprint, long jump, and disc throwing. In the Roman period new actions like gladiator shows (munera) and beast fights (venationes) were added. That some rows have holes for fixing wooden posts suggests that gladiator and animal fights did take place here. Stadia normally had rows of seats for spectators, private boxes, spina, entrance and exit areas, tracks, targets and frontier marks, altar, and waiting area for chariots. The baths complex next to the Stadium was for the athletes to bathe.

 

 


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