North Theatre

Roman Site in Jerash

Built about AD 165 and enlarged in 235, the beautiful little North Theatre was most likely used for government meetings rather than artistic performances. Originally it had 14 rows of seats, with two vaulted passageways leading to the front of the theatre, as well as five internal arched corridors leading to the upper rows. Many of the seats are inscribed with the names of delegates who voted in the city council.

Like many of the grand monuments at Jerash, the North Theatre was destroyed by earthquakes and then partially dismantled for later Byzantine and Umayyad building projects. However, in recent years it has been magnificently restored and still maintains a capacity of about 2000 people. The theatre may not have been used for performances, but there’s still plenty of rhythm in the design details, with round niches, inverted scallop shells, and exuberant carvings of musicians and dancers at the base of the stairs.