After the discovery of a historical latrine (a toilet or an even simpler facility used as a toilet within a sanitation system) used by artists in the theater section of the ancient city of Smyrna, located within the borders of the western city of Izmir, archaeologists recently unearthed a 2,000-year-old passage in the same section of the ancient city. The passage is 23 meters long (65 feet long) and built in an “L” shape.
The latest excavations in the 2,000-year-old theater located on the hillside between Kadifekale and Agora of Smyrna have brought internationally important finds to the world of archaeology to date. The excavation team, for example, unveiled an “artists’ toilet” in the stage building, where 13 people can sit side by side, in the theater in 2021. They also found a 26-meter passage shortly after that discovery.
The 4-meter-wide passage, allowing the audience to reach the theater – which has a capacity of approximately 20,000 people – was discovered 6 to 7 meters below the houses that were demolished via expropriation.
It was determined that the passage, called “vomitorium” by archaeologists, was built with the knowledge of arches and vaults to strengthen the rows of seats.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Akın Ersoy of Izmir Katip Çelebi University’s (IKÇÜ) Turkish-Islamic Archeology Department, who also heads the excavations in the ancient city’s theater, said they call the passage “western vomitorium” and added: “There should be an Eastern Vomitorium too. We hope that we will uncover it during the 2022 excavations and thus we will encounter another architectural find that will highlight the 20,000 spectator capacity of the Izmir theater.”
Pointing out that the passage at the theater of Smyrna was built with arch and vault systems, Ersoy said: “The arch and vault systems were not used in Anatolia and the Mediterranean region before the Roman period, except for a few examples. We often come across such examples during the Roman period. We see that vault and arch systems can be used easily in the baths and other theater structures built in this period, and accordingly, very large and high structures can be built. These structures were also used for people to protect themselves from bad weather conditions and to take shelter.”