see it clearly

Ancient Roman Coliseum

The ancient Roman Coliseum is an architectural marvel that remains standing after more than two millennium and two world wars. The Coliseum was a time-intensive project that lasted through the duration of two Emperors. Construction began during the rule of the Emperor Vespasian in 70 AD and ended with its inauguration during the rule of Vespasian's son, the Emperor Titus in 80 AD. The inauguration ceremony alone lasted over 100 days, in which thousands of wild animals were killed in different gladiatorial displays.

Ancient Roman Coliseum

Built During Times of Turmoil

The ancient Roman Coliseum was built amidst a time of great turmoil amongst the Roman hierarchy, and many believed politics motivated the expansive structure's construction. The project involved the multitudes and was such a focal point that the mob was distracted from the corruption that had run rampant through the upper echelons of power.

Ancient Roman Entertainment

The main use of the Coliseum in Ancient Rome was the gladiator shows, where slaves would engage in battles with both each other and a number of different wild animals to the delight of the crowds. These gladiatorial displays often only included the slaves, hand weapons, and the animals that were slain, but there are records of some Emperors and high generals of the Roman Army who enjoyed entering the gladiatorial ring as well. Despite pop culture assertions, chariots were not used in the Coliseum.

In most cases, the gladiators that entered the arena were fighting for their own lives, with many of them being imprisoned for debts or different petty crimes. Some were given the opportunity to fight for their own freedom or the freedom of their families while others fought to avoid a harsher sentence of execution, being allowed to live as long as they fought successfully.

These bloody battles thrilled crowds, packing the Roman Coliseum to capacity at nearly every opportunity given. In all, throughout the use of the Coliseum for these displays of gladiatorial strength, over 500,000 people were killed and a countless number of animals were slain in the central arena in the name of entertainment.

Coliseum Seating and Structure

As with many different things in Ancient Rome, Coliseum was built with the separation of social classes in mind. The members of different social strata starting with the Emperor and the revered Vestal Virgins occupied varying levels of seating in the Coliseum. The members of the Roman Senate were then seated opposite each other at the arena level. The next level of seating was reserved for Roman noblemen and Knights, followed by the wealthy Roman citizens and land owners, and finally the middle and lower classes of Roman citizens. Many of the structures and public venues in Ancient Rome were arranged this way, with social status determining where a person entered or sat.

The design of the Coliseum allowed for the comfortable seating of around 65,000 people, not including the tunnels underneath that housed the animals and the slaves and gladiators. In all, the maximum capacity of the coliseum was said to be around 80,000 people. The success of the design influenced arenas and stadium designs for centuries.

The design and materials used to erect the Coliseum have stood the test of time, and the materials that fell in the earthquake of 1349 AD were used in the construction of the Vatican. With a structure this well designed, earthquakes and fires have failed to completely level the Coliseum, and through a number of different ownership transfers and different renovation projects the majority of the ancient Roman Coliseum, built in the first century can still be seen in the twenty-first century.