Reviving the Architectural and Acoustical Theatre Heritage: the Role of Erato Project

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The Fifth International Conference of the Center for the Study of Architecture in the Arab Region (CSAAR 2008B): Responsibilities and Opportunities in Architectural Conservation: Theory, Education, and Practice, (CSAAR), 3-5 November, 2008, Amman, Jordan, Vol 1, pp. 421-434.

Reviving the Architectural and Acoustical Theatre Heritage: the Role of ERATO Project Naif Adel Haddad
Department of Conservation Science, Queen Rania Institute of Tourism and Heritage, the Hashemite University, Zarqa , Jordan, E-mail: naifh@hu.edu.jo

Abstract
ERATO is a research project (2003-2006) entitled „Identification, Evaluation and Revival of the Acoustical Heritage of Ancient Theatres and Odea‟ that was implemented within the Fifth Framework INCO-MED Programme of the European Commission, under the thematic title „Preserving and Using Cultural Heritage‟. The project was designed to identify virtual restoration and the revival of the acoustical and architectural heritage. In fact, the ancient theatre in its many aspects has attracted a great deal of interest in the recent years. Some of them are still in use today. However, understanding that we are dealing with man-made space designed for dialogue between audience and actors, the subject of the acoustical qualities should be considered as an important component of theatres and odea. Though, the most critical issue in the conservation and restoration of those monuments is how to create a sense of space in the theatre, where the acoustical reflections and the visual imagery are fundamental components. This paper attempts to discuss some new aspects concerning the approach for conservation and restoration of these monuments. It argues that the conservation and restoration of acoustical characteristics, and in order to take advantage of the acoustical design of ancient theatres and odea should be considered as the most important support for the conservation process. It also attempts to evaluate, how conservation and restoration of ancient theaters and odea can enhance and preserve their authentic scientific information, since the cultural significance of many theatres and odea is not readily apparent. Keywords: acoustical and architectural heritage, authentic scientific information, simulation, sense of space, modern use, conservation approach.

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Introduction

Greek, Hellenistic and Roman theatres were influenced by a multitude of geographic, climatic, political, economic, social and cultural factors. It was not until the early 6th century BC, that the theatre had a separate architectural space in the city for drama performance. Every city had to have its public entertainments, so a theatre and later an amphitheatre, were an important section of the original planning and later expansion of Roman cities and were constructed according to the population of the city. A smaller but still more specialized type of theatre building identified by the generic Latin term theatrum tectum (roofed theatre) was being developed concurrently with the larger out door one. This kind of theatre, the odium, occurred already in Greece and became widespread in the Roman period; it is actually a concert hall for singing and music performance, and also used for major meetings (Haddad, 2006a). However, in every historical epoch, all theatres both outdoor and roofed have been used for many purposes. These are categorized technologically as being either multi-purpose theatre, which is the outdoor open-air theatre and is intended to accommodate a variety of public events as disparate as athletics and the performing arts, or multiple-use theatre which is the odium (Izenour, 1992). It is ordinary that the odium was built in a short distance from the larger open air theatre. It is also characteristic that the amphitheatre is located far away from the theatre and odium. Actually, both theatre and odium served as a cultural centre and stood as a huge multi-functional, social, religious, propaganda and political...
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