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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago
     The Flavian Amphitheater was built in the center of Rome where all citizens could enjoy its entertainment. The Colosseum was constructed in a twenty-foot deep lakebed. To begin the construction effort laborers had to remove 33,000 tons of soil from the lakebed to allow for this massive structure. This is because the Colosseum was so large that it needed supports forty feet deep in the soil to keep it stable. Once all the soil was cleared away architects would start using one of the newest Roman inventions; concrete. Concrete was a mixture of sand, soil, and water. The construction foremen poured concrete into the trench where the Colosseum would later be, once the concrete was dry the laborers added brick retaining walls to support the weight of the amphitheatre. As the stonemasons got closer to ground level the clay wasn’t as strong, in response to this, the stonemasons added bricks to the clay and then poured concrete around them to provide a stable foundation. This completed the basement of the Colosseum, which was where the slaves and performers would reside before and after the shows.
     The Podium was the first floor of the Colosseum. The Podium was reserved for the most prominent government officials, such as the emperor, senators, and dignitaries. The floor of the Podium was built on three layers of travertine stone. To keep the stone stable each block was bonded with melted bronze, when the bronze hardened it acted as cement. The Colosseum had seven internal layers, or piers. Pier one is the tallest set of columns and is the outermost set of columns. The façade, which was made of marble, was held in place by these columns. A façade is an ornate wall on the front of a building. The seventh pier is the shortest set of columns and is closest to the arena floor. Piers one, two, three, six, and seven are freestanding, and have no walls connecting them. In between these piers were corridors that went around the entire arena giving access to the many sets of stairs. This system of corridors, staircases, and arches would allow everyone in the amphitheatre to leave in about ten minutes. Piers one, two, six, and seven were made of travertine stone. Piers three, four, and five are made of tufa stone, which was also used, in the radial wall. The radial wall supported the weight of the Colosseum and all of its guests. The other piers were used to channel weight from arches down to the lakebed. Each pier was designed to hold tons of stone and to allow fifty thousand spectators to watch the shows.
     There were four upper layers to the Colosseum along with the Podium, and they were much more complicated to build than the Podium was. The second layer was called the ima cavea and sat officers and other government officials. The third layer, which held the radial wall, was called the media cavea, and held soldiers and the “ordinary citizens.” The fourth layer was called the summa caveal and sat foreigners, slaves, and the poor. The fifth level was where women watched the performances; this layer was called the summum maenianum on ligneis. The architects had to get tons of stone into the air and into place on these four levels of the Colosseum. The Romans used a crane that helped them lay the stones on the upper layers. The engineers wanted the upper layers to be as light as possible so that the Colosseum would not collapse under its own weight. Instead of using tufa for these layers they used concrete and brick. Concrete and brick are much lighter than tufa. The radial wall on the media cavea was also built of concrete and brick.Concrete and brick were the main materials used in the upper levels of the Flavian Amphitheatre.
     The Colosseum was a state of the art building of its time. The structure contained fountains and toilets, which were connected to a system of aqueducts. The Flavian Amphitheatre also needed ways in which to support its massive weight. The Romans used arches as the major support system in the Colosseum. Arches were used in many places in the Colosseum including the corridors. The halls in the building were barrel vaulted. The barrel vaulted halls in the Colosseum used arches to transfer weight from the arches down through columns. In arches, weight pushes down on the top of the arch at its keystone then the weight gets channeled down the sides of the arches through columns and safely to the ground. The arch was one of the most important architectural features used in the Colosseum, and is now used in many buildings around the world.


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