DODONI--The ancient site of Dodona is located 22 km. south of Ioannina, in the narrow valley between mounts Tomaros and Manoliassa. The first remains on the site date from the prehistoric period and the first deity worshipped here was the Earth goddess. The cult of Zeus and the sacred oak tree was brought to Dodona by the Selloi, a branch of the Thesprotian tribe, between the 19th and 14th centuries B.C. and soon became the prevalent cult of the sanctuary.
The first offerings from southern Greece date from the end of the 8th century B.C. and building activity began in the 4th century B.C. The sanctuary reached the highest point of its prosperity in the 3rd century B.C. but was destroyed by the Aetolians in 219 B.C. It was rebuilt shortly thereafter and continued to be in use until its destruction by the Roman invaders in 167 B.C. In the Roman period it had a different function and its end came in the 4th century A.D., during the reign of Theodosius the Great. The area of the sanctuary was then covered with Christian basilicas. Today the theatre is used for performances.
The first excavations on the site, carried out by N. Karapanos in 1873-75, confirmed the location of the sanctuary and revealed a great quantity of finds. The following excavation campaign was undertaken shortly after 1913, by the Archaeological Society, under the direction of G. Soteriades but was stopped by the events of 1921. The site was again investigated by D. Evangelides in the period from 1929 until 1932, and systematic excavations started in the 1950's under the direction of D. Evangelides and S. Dakaris (after Evangelides' death, they were continued by S. Dakaris). Since 1981, the excavations are carried out under the auspices of the Archaeological Society, with the financial support of the University of Ioannina.
Systematic restoration work in the theatre, the stadium, and other monuments of the site started in 1961 and was based on the study of the architect B. Charissis. The whole project was financed by the Archaeological Society and the Program for Public Investments. Until 1975, the greatest part of the theatre had been restored, except for the third diazoma.