Facts about the Colosseum

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

Facts about the Colosseum
The following Facts about the Colosseum provides short facts and information about this Ancient Roman arena of Death.

  • When it was first built it was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, after the Flavian dynasty of Emperors including Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

  • The name 'Colosseum' is derived from the Latin word 'colosseus' meaning colossal. This was in reference to the gigantic statue of the Emperor Nero which had been previously erected near the site of the Colosseum.

  • The great amphitheatre covers and area of 6 acres

  • Entrance to the games was free. The massive amphitheatre had a capacity estimated at between 50,000 and 80,000 Romans

  • The outer circumference measures 545 metres (1,788 ft). It is 50 metres high (187 ft), 189 metres (615 ft) long and 156 metres 510 ft wide. Dimensions of the Colosseum

  • The area beneath the Colosseum was called the Hypogeum (meaning underground). The hypogeum consisted of two-level subterranean network of tunnels and 32 animal pens. It had 80 vertical shafts which provided instant access to the arena for animals and scenery.

  • The Emperor Domitian, the younger son of Vespasian added the hypogeum and also a gallery at the top of the Colosseum to increase its seating capacity.

  • The Colosseum is located in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy (Piazzale del Colosseo, Rome). The absolute location is 41 degrees latitude and 12 degrees longitude.

  • There were 36 trap doors in Arena allowing for elaborate special effects

  • The animals displayed and killed at the theatre were transported from every corner of the Roman Empire reflecting the scale and scope of the Roman provinces. Wild Animals at the Colosseum

  • The wild and exotic animals which included lions, tigers, hyenas, hippos, rhino's, crocodiles, ostriches, antelopes, bears and zebras

  • There were over 20 different types of Gladiators

  • The Roman Colosseum was used for staging various events including gladiator fights, wild animal displays, theatrical entertainment, executions, religious ceremonies, mock sea battles and re-playing famous Roman victories.

  • The Colosseum was built as a gift to Roman Citizens, increasing the popularity of the Flavian dynasty

  • It Staged various forms of entertainment in a purpose built stone amphitheatre, creating a diversion for unemployed and unruly Plebs

  • It showcased the latest Roman engineering techniques demonstrating to the world the power of Rome

  • The emperor took up a prominent position in the imperial box was called the pulvinar which was located on the podium (meaning place of honor) which was like a terrace and about 15ft wide astride the centre of the minor axis of the arena on the north side. Seating at the Colosseum

  • The Flavian Amphitheatre was built of travertine on the outside and tufa and brick in the interior. The main pedestals were built of marble blocks.

  • In the building of the Colosseum the slaves undertook the manual labor and teams of professional Roman builders, engineers and decorators undertook the skilled tasks.

  • The Colosseum consisted of four floors. The first three storeys had high, arched entrances designed with tiers of Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns.

  • A Retractable Awning called the Velarium at the Roman Colosseum provided cover and shade. Brackets supported 240 wooden masts on which canvas awnings were hung.

  • There were 76 entrances which were numbered but there were an additional four grand entrances which were not numbered. Colosseum Entrances and Exits

  • Tickets were distributed for the shows, each one marked with a seat number, tier number and entrance number. The inaugural games at the Colosseum lasted more than 100 days.

  • At the end of the day the gladiators who had been killed were dragged through the Porta Libitinensis (Gate of Death) to the Spoliarium where the body was stripped and the weapons and armor given to the dead gladiatorís lanista.

  • The arena was 287 ft long and 180 ft wide. The arena was covered with 15cm of sand.

  • There were various entrances/ exits from the arena. The Porta Sanavivaria was the Gate of Life where those who had been defeated but spared would exit, the Porta Libitina was the Gate of Death or Executions and the Porta Triumphalis where the victors would exit the arena.

  • The bisellium was a richly ornamented seat of honor at the games. It was so called because there was room for two persons upon it, although only one sat there, usually the Emperor.

  • 42 Roman Emperors witnessed the carnage at the amphitheatre

  • An estimated 700,000 people died in the bloody arena

  • Executions of Christians or Criminals provided popular midday entertainment.

  • As many as 5000 animals were slaughtered in one day - wild animals were killed to the point of extinction. See Wild Animals at the Colosseum

  • The massive Flavian Amphitheatre took less than 10 years to build

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