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Roman Colosseum - Essay Example

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The Colosseum, also referred to as the Coliseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre, is at the centre of Rome. It was the largest elliptical amphitheatre that existed in the Roman Empire. It is a masterpiece of Roman engineering and architecture…
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Roman Colosseum
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Download file to see previous pages Concrete and stone were the main construction materials. Its construction began in 70 AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. It took ten years to construct and. Emporer Titus, Emporer Vespasian's successor inaugurated it after its completion. The coliseum underwent further modifications between 81 AD and 96 AD under the reign of Emperor Domitian (Connoly 31).
Upon completion, the Colosseum had a capacity of between 50,000 and 80,000 people. The main uses of the Colosseum were public spectacles like animal hunts, re-enactments of famous battles, executions, mock sea battles and gladiatorial contests (Connoly 67). In the early medieval era, the Colosseum ceased to be an entertainment venue. It also provided housing, held workshops, acted as a fortress, acted as a Christian shrine and also as a quarry.
Today, the Colosseum still remains partially ruined due to the damage caused to it by stone robbers and earthquakes. It is still an iconic symbol in Rome and an insight into the rich culture of Imperial Rome. The original Latin name of the Colosseum was Amphitheatrum Flavium. Emperors who belonged to the Flavian dynasty built it. Ancient belief has it that its name came about from the statue of Nero that stood nearby. The Romans later remodelled the statue to resemble Apollo, the sun god (Hopkins and Beard 11).
2. Construction Construction began around 70-72 AD during Emperor Vespasian’s rule. Proceeds from the Siege of Jerusalem a few years back funded the construction of the Colosseum. The site for its construction was a flat piece of land on a low valley between Palatine, Caelian and Esquiline Hills. By 200 BC, this area had a high population of people. However, in 64 AD it experienced the Great Fire of Rome and afterwards Emperor Nero seized it. He used this area for his personal purposes. He built many structures there including Domus Aurea, an artificial lake, pavilions, porticoes and gardens (Gardner). Construction of the Colosseum began in Emperor Vespasian’s era. The Colosseum was a sign of the great triumph Rome enjoyed in its victories, one of the major ones being the Great Jewish Revolt. Emperor Vespasian constructed the Colosseum on Nero’s lake. This was an intention to return to the people land that Emperor Nero had taken up years back for his personal use. Its central position at the city of Rome was a symbol of its position at the heart of Rome. Emperor Vespasian died in 79 AD as the Colosseum was still under construction. It had reached the third storey at the time of his death. His son, Titus, took up the responsibility of completing it. The Romans completed building and inaugurating it in 80 AD. They slaughtered many wild animals, approximately 9000 in number, slaughtered during the inaugural games held in the amphitheatre (Connoly 33). The younger son of Vespasian, Emperor Domitian made further modifications to the Colosseum. These modifications included the construction of the hypogeum; underground tunnels used to house slaves and animals. Additionally, Domitian constructed a gallery at the top to increase the capacity of the Colosseum. A major fire in 217 damaged the Colosseum, mainly the upper wooden levels. This was fully repaired the Colosseum in 240 AD. Gladiatorial hunts continued up until 435 whereas animal hunts lasted until 523 (Connoly 68). 3. Design The Colosseum, as opposed to Greek theatres constructed before it, was a free standing structure. The previous theatres stand on the sides of hills. Its interior and exterior architecture resemble two Roman theatres. It is elliptical in shape, 156 metres wide and 189 metres long. The base area is 24,000 square metres and the outer walls are 48 metres high. The outer perimeter of the Colosseum measures ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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