Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was named after a statue.
The official name of the Colosseum was ‘The Flavian Amphitheatre”, named after the Flavian dynasty of emperors who had it built. Most ordinary Romans called it the Colosseum because it was built next to the Colossus, a 30 metre tall statue of the emperor Nero.

The Colosseum was built on a marsh
When the Emperor Vespasian Flavian ordered building work to begin on the Colosseum in ad72 there was only one piece of land large enough in Rome that had not already been built on. This was an area of marsh between the river Tiber and the Emperor’s palace. Before building work could begin the marsh had to be drained. 

The Colosseum could seat 50,000 spectators
The huge seating area was divided up into over 80 sections. Each section had a separate door which led to a flight of steps leading to the outside of the Colosseum. It is thought that the entire audience could have left in less than 15 minutes of the end of the show. The standing room at the top was reserved for slaves and may have held another 4,000 people.

The Colosseum was probably the largest building in the world
When the Colosseum was finished in ad80 it was probably the largest building in the world. The outer walls stood over 46 metres tall and covered an area 194 metres long by 160 metres wide. The walls were covered in stone, but most of the structure was made of brick or concrete.

The first games in the Colosseum lasted 100 days
The Colosseum was finished during the reign of the emperor Titus. Titus wanted to show that he was the most generous man ever to live in Rome, so he organised gladiatorial games to last for 100 days. Thousands of gladiators and wild animals fought in these games, which some people thought were the finest ever staged in Rome.

I don’t believe it
The canvas sun shade over the Colosseum was operated by sailors from the Roman fleet. So most of the fleet had to stay in harbour whenever games were held in sunny weather.

This is an extract from 100 Things You Should Know About Gladiators by Rupert Matthews

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