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The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 Monday, November 24, 2014
 
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Coliseum

The Roman Coliseum, originally known as the Flavian amphitheater, is a vast amphitheater made of Travertine marble, built on the perimeters of an artificial lake near Neron. Its construction was begun in 70 A.D. during the reign of Tito Flavio Vespasian and officially inaugurated in 80 A.D. by Titus, with ceremonies that lasted 100 days. It was used for hand-to-hand combats between gladiators, for contests between men and animals, and many larger combats, including mock naval engagements.

Unlike earlier amphitheaters, which were nearly all dug into convenient hillsides for extra support, the Coliseum is a freestanding structure, measuring 620 by 513 feet overall and has a seating capacity for 50,000 spectators. It was three stories tall and has a labyrinth of subterranean rooms and halls beneath. In 82 A.D. it was completed with the addition of the uppermost fourth story by Domitian. Hebrew prisoners from the Judea war were thought to have built it originally, using Travertine marble and concrete.

The building was restored on various occasions, most of all by Alejandro Severo, from the year 222 to 224 and Decio in 250.

After 404 it was used very little because of its unstability. During medieval times it was damaged by lightning and earthquakes and even more so by vandalism, being used as a marble quarry for the many Roman palaces that were built from it. All of its marble seats and decorative materials disappeared during that time. During the 19th century other restorations were made by Canina.

Currently the Coliseum is one of the most important tourist attractions in Europe.



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