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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years ago


     The Roman Colosseum was an amphitheatre. The Colosseum could hold up to 50,000 people, and could be emptied within ten minutes. The 50,000 people were separated by social class. They were divided into three levels; the level that was closest to the arena floor was reserved for the senators and the emperor. The Patricians or rich citizens also sat here. The majority of people sat in the second level. These people were called Plebeians or the middle class. Most of these men were farmers or artisans. The last level was at the top of the amphitheatre, and furthest from the arena floor, the slaves and the women stood up here. There were no seats for these people. All citizens could easily be kept in the Colosseum because of its size.

     The Colosseum was a massive structure. It covered over six acres of land, from end to end the Colosseum was 620 feet long, 513 feet wide, and over 160 feet tall. To fill and empty such a large building very quickly would be difficult. The architects came up with a system of arches and staircases inside the building. With over 80 archways with multiple sets of stairs leading to the seats it would easily be emptied in less than ten minutes. Underneath the seats there were a labyrinth of corridors and stairs. The stairways from the first level rose to the second and third levels. Ordinary citizens would enter the building through one of seventy six arches. The other four were reserved for the emperor and his family to use. This caused the Colosseum to have a very unique design.

     The Flavian Amphitheatre has a very distinct shape. Most amphitheatres are circular, but the Colosseum was an oval. The Colosseum was constructed in an oval shape to allow everyone a good view of the events. When the Colosseum was first built there was no actual floor, all the events would happen on the ground. Later inside the Colosseum a new floor was added. The floor was wooden with wooden support poles. Each pole had a hole where the pole would be kept upright. These wooden poles and boards could be removed for certain events such as a mock sea battle. Both of the theories allow for the possibility of a mock sea battle. There is debate over whether or not a sea battle was achieved, but there is a definite possibility that water could have easily flooded the Colosseum.

     Eventually people constructed a new floor which was made of stone poles and a wooden floor which has rotted away. When this floor was installed in the Colosseum it was covered with sand to give the effect of the original floor. Under the new floor there was a labyrinth of rooms and passageways where performers would get ready, and slaves would raise and lower animals and people up elevators. The lifts opened into trapdoors on the floor. The audience could not see this happening so it gave the illusion of animals and people coming from nowhere. There were thirty two trap doors along the edge of the floor, and each trapdoor had a lift powered by 250 slaves. This was a major part of the system which made the Colosseum such an exciting attraction to Roman citizens.

     The Colosseum was an engineering marvel of the time and today people are still amazed. People don’t understand the challenges of building an entire building out of stone without any modern day tools or equipment. As most structures do the Colosseum renovated many times. The Colosseum’s basement had many unique features that made the shows much more exciting. The basement was another engineering marvel of the time.


NOTE: Recently the Colosseum’s basement was overrun with cats!


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