The Roman Colosseum:

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The Roman COLOSSEUM , Flavian amphitheater built over the remains of Nero's "Golden House" in Rome, c. 80 AD. The primary function of an amphitheater was to house spectacles of blood sports--gladiators combats and hunts of wild animals. Early Roman Christians were persecuted in this manner in the Colosseum. The design of an amphitheater basically requires the construction of two semicircular theaters placed face to face. Tiers of seats were supported by vaulted substructures constructed of tile and mortar. Elevators raised and lowered animals to the floor of the arena from caged areas below. Seating capacity of the Colosseum is estimated around 50,000.

Useful bibliography: J.-Cl. Golvin, L'Amphithéâtre Romain. Essai sur la théorisation de sa forme et de ses fonctions (1988); A. Honle and A. Henze, Römische Amphitheater und Stadien: Gladiatorenkämpfe und Circusspiele (1981); Three papers on the Colosseum and its Arena, Journal of Roman Archaeology13 (2000), 69-103.

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Last Updated: 02/17/2000