Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Italy Blog #70: Rome: The Colosseum

Rob and Tom inside the Colosseum
In this blog of our Italy trip (in May 2016) we'll explore the Colosseum of ancient Rome. Thanks to for the info below, which we heard during the tour (but needed a refresher).

Outside the Colosseum
BUILDING IT - The massive stone amphitheater  was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights.

Closeup of an arched entryway
Inside the Colosseum
THE STRUCTURE - Measuring some 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 meters), the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in the Roman world. It's different from earlier amphitheaters which had been dug into hillsides to provide adequate support.  The Colosseum was a freestanding structure made of stone and concrete. The distinctive exterior had three stories of arched entrances–a total of around 80–supported by semi-circular columns.The Colosseum had seating for more than 50,000 spectators.
GLADIATOR BATTLING - A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. This brutal sport was abolished by 438 A.D.
(Of course, the gladiators likely were in great shape so no wonder everyone wanted to see them!)

UNDER THE FLOOR - There was actually a floor in the center of the structure and underneath it were a maze of rooms. Some of the rooms held the animals gladiators would fight. Other rooms held criminals, and other rooms were for the gladiators. 

WHEN DID IT BECOME OBSOLETE?  -The Colosseum had four centuries of active use, until the struggles of the Western Roman Empire and the gradual change in public tastes put an end to gladiatorial combats and other large public entertainments by the 6th century A.D., specifically 523 A.D. under Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, when it was last used for animal hunts (according to the book "Rome" by R.A. Staccioli- which we bought!)

PILLAGED AFTER ABANDONED -It was used as a quarry for numerous building projects, including the cathedrals of St. Peter and St. John Lateran, the Palazzo Venezia and defense fortifications along the Tiber River.

An ancient pulley system
WHEN WAS IT SAVED? - Beginning in the 18th century various popes sought to conserve the arena as a sacred Christian site, though it is in fact uncertain whether early Christian martyrs met their fate in the Colosseum, as has been speculated.

another hot gladiator
BAD SHAPE IN THE 1900s -By the 20th century, a combination of weather, natural disasters, neglect and vandalism had destroyed nearly two-thirds of the original Colosseum, including all of the arena’s marble seats and its decorative elements. Restoration efforts began in the 1990s.

UNIQUE PULLEY SYSTEMS - One of the things we were taken by, after getting past the size, architecture and creation of the structure was the pulley system the ancient Romans created to lift animals, gates, stones, etc. 

BRICK FACT - Did you know that ancient Roman bricks were triangular? They also included a logo and the name of the Emperor at the time the brick was made. That helped date the brick.


2 MINUTE VIDEO:  (from Rome Colosseum, the virtual tour of the Flavian Amphitheater - Part 1 | Roman Holiday Accommodation)

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next