Detailed dimensions of the Colosseum

Detailed dimensions of the Colosseum

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I know that the Colosseum is about 189x156 meters, and 48 meters high, but I am having trouble finding any information on the dimensions of each of the 4 rows of seating. To be exact, where each row starts/ends. I can't seem to find anything other than very basic information on the dimensions of the structure. This link appears to provide information on seat dimensions, arch heights of the 4 rows etc. Unfortunately, it didn't cite its primary sources.

Description of the Colosseum

The Colosseum is the name given to the amphitheater of the city of Rome. Its name comes from the word 'Colosse', which designates a particularly tall and strong being. (See the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 wonders of the world, which is a pretty good word as it is really big and impressive, it is also the greatest of all amphitheatres of the Roman Empire.


The interior of the Colosseum, it hints at its splendor of yesteryear

All Roman amphitheatres are similar, they are all ovoid (ie egg-shaped). An arcaded wall runs around it, quite vertical and quite high, and the interior is made up of an oval arena from which staggered terraces start. If initially there were only two floors in the Colosseum, the emperor Domitian quickly built a third floor, with wooden steps, to increase its capacity. He also had the hypogeum built, that is, the basements of the arena, which correspond to the backstage of our modern theaters.

Restoring the Colosseum

Ann Natanson reports on a new scheme to restore the Roman Colosseum to its former gory glory.

Italy’s most popular monument, with up to six million visitors a year, is feeling its age. Its massive size and long life grants it some dignity, but recent news reports place it on the level of a bedraggled theme park.

In August a hoax bomb, consisting of a tin can with suspicious-looking wires, closed down the monument for two hours and resulted in the forced evacuation of angry tourists. The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, visited the site and found to his dismay that no bomb detection scanners were in place, nor was there any continuous link up with local police. A few days later 20 fake ‘centurions’ were arrested in an attempt to end their gang wars as well as their hassling of tourists regarding payment for posing with their cardboard weapons.

Is this the monument which so struck the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1818 that he proclaimed: ‘The Coliseum is unlike the work of human hands I ever saw before. It is of enormous height and circuit, and the arches built of massy stones are piled on one another and jut into the blue air, shattered into the forms of overhanging rocks’?

The construction of the Colosseum was begun by the Emperor Vespasian in ad 72 and finished by his son Titus in ad 80. The building’s first name – the Flavian Amphitheatre – was taken from the praenomen, Flavius, of the two emperors. The inaugural festivities lasted 100 days and 5,000 wild beasts are said to have been killed in one day – ostriches, tigers, lions, panthers, bears and hippos – certainly a record. Not surprisingly North African elephants became extinct in this period due to their use in arenas. Combat between gladiators and wild animals was said to be the most popular event, but there were many variations and all were fights to the death. All kinds of weapons were used – swords, nets, tridents, daggers and offensive shields – and the people involved, included professional gladiators, convicted criminals, Christians, hunters, dwarves and even women. The arena was decorated with sets representing woods and deserts and on occasion it was flooded and equipped with small boats to imitate a sea battle.

Not all Roman citizens loved arena performances. The philosopher Seneca complained that a mid-day show he attended was ‘pure murder’ and the men involved had no protective covering. Also during the intermission the crowd shouted, greedy for blood: ‘Let’s have men killed meanwhile! We can’t have nothing going on!’

Fifty years later, as an embellishment, Hadrian ordered the transfer of a huge bronze statue to a site near the amphi-theatre. The statue was 30 metres tall and known as the Colossus of Nero. The transfer was achieved, with the statue standing upright, by 12 pairs of elephants. By the end of the eighth century the statue must have been demolished as it was no longer mentioned by travellers. The amphitheatre ever after took its name from the hated emperor’s statue and not, as many believe, from its size.

The amphitheatre was the inspiration for numerous similar but smaller buildings, numbering more than 180 throughout the Roman Empire. Its form was elliptical to allow maximum capacity – between 40,000 and 50,000 places. At the lowest level the sand-covered stage or arena was topped by a wall to keep spectators safe from the lunging combatants.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire the Colosseum played many roles: as a fortress, convent and hermitage. It also suffered from lightning strikes and earthquakes but, most damaging of all, it was used as a quarry and handy source of building materials. Its stones were used to make the steps of St Peter’s Basilica and innumerable churches of the Baroque era’s building boom. Two hundred years later subsequent popes stopped the quarrying and made attempts at some restoration. The many martyrdoms of professed Christians in the arena are now remembered every Good Friday by a candlelit procession through the archways led by the pope.

From this year more care is to be taken of the Colosseum. A special appeal for a sponsor from private industry was made last year and Tod’s, the Marche-based maker of fine shoes, came forward with a 25 million euro offer to pay for a three-year project of cleaning and urgent restoration. Its owner, Diego Delle Valle, has promised not to slip in some surreptitious advertising for their pimple-soled car shoes.

As with the Louvre’s pyramid and the new entry to the Vatican Museums, body scanners and cloakrooms will be introduced to the Colosseum, as well as meeting places for tour groups. Centuries of grime deposited on the travertine marble exterior will be removed, giving it a lighter, brighter appearance.

The most important changes relate to the opening up of other floors of the monument, some never accessed before by tourists. This will allow small groups to descend with a guide to the dark corridors of the Hypogeum below the arena, where caged animals and gladiators waited to be hoisted into action. Visitors will also be allowed to climb to the third tier of the amphi-theatre where they will have wonderful views of the whole interior and outwards, looking north-west to the Forum and the Capitoline Hill. In addition they will be able to see where sailors stretched canvas sails over the whole area and visit the topmost tiers of seats, supposedly available to Roman women after a strenuous climb.

In 2014, when the work is scheduled to be completed, 85 per cent of the structure will be open to tourists as against the present figure of only 15 per cent. One of the world’s great buildings will be revealed as never before.


In 64 AD, the Great Fire of Rome wrecked the Eternal City. It happened during the rule of Nero, who appropriated the land and built a luxury palace with a lake and gardens, which we all know as Domus Aurea (“Golden House”). Also, 37 meters high statue of Nero was created on the site. However, the misrule of the emperor caused many civil wars. After his death and during the rule of Vespasian (A.D. 69-79), the new emperor with his sons, Titus (79-81) and Domitian (81-96), tried to restore Senate and develop the welfare of citizens. Around 70-72, Vespasian restored Nero’s Domus Aurea, and built a new amphitheater for people to enjoy gladiatorial combats and fights with animals.

The Colosseum demanded huge input of materials and manpower for its construction. However, after the war with the Jews, Vespasian acquired more than 1000 slaves and necessary funds for the amphitheater building. The beginning of works was in 71-72 AD. He decided that the area between the three hills of Rome: the Caelian Hill, the Esquilline Hill, and the Palatine Hill, will be an ideal location.

When the Emperor Vespasian died, the helm of the state was passed to his son Titus (Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus)

The successor finished the building of the Colosseum and entitled its generic name – the Flavian Amphitheatre. Moreover, the building accommodated 50 to 80 thousands of people, having on average 65 thousands of visitors.

There were substructures under the fighting area that may have been animal dens or channels for water for or from the mock naval battles. It is hard to determine how the Romans produced venationes and naumachiae on the same day.

A removable awning called velarium provided the spectators with shade from the sun.

The outside of the Flavian amphitheater has three rows of arches, each built according to a different order of architecture, Tuscan (the simplest, Doric, but with an Ionic base), on the ground level, then Ionic, and then the most ornate of the three Greek orders, the Corinthian. The vaults of the Colosseum were both barrel and groined (where barrel arches intersect each other at right angles). The core was concrete, with the exterior covered in cut stone.

The Colosseum

The famous Roman amphitheater, the Colosseum, was built between A.D. 70 and 72 and was enjoyed by Roman citizens during the height of the Roman Empire.

Anthropology, Archaeology, Social Studies, World History


The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, is a large amphitheater that hosted events like gladiatorial games.

The Colosseum, also named the Flavian Amphitheater, is a large amphitheater in Rome. It was built during the reign of the Flavian emperors as a gift to the Roman people.

Construction of the Colosseum began sometime between A.D. 70 and 72 under the emperor Vespasian. It opened nearly a decade later and was modified several times in the following years. The massive structure measured approximately 189 by 156 meters (620 by 513 feet), towered four stories high, and included eighty entrances to the amphitheater&mdashseventy-six for the patrons, two for participants of events, and two exclusively for the emperor to use. The sheer number of entrances proved to be necessary: the Colosseum could hold more than 50,000 spectators at its maximum capacity.

When the Colosseum first opened, the emperor Titus celebrated with a hundred days of gladiatorial games. Emperors traditionally attended the games. The emperor Commodus is known to have performed in the arena on hundreds of occasions. Aside from the games, the Colosseum also hosted dramas, reenactments, and even public executions.

Eventually, the Romans&rsquo interest in the games waned. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Colosseum began to deteriorate. A series of earthquakes during the fifth century A.D. damaged the structure, and it also suffered from neglect. By the 20th century, nearly two-thirds of the original building had been destroyed. Nevertheless, a restoration project began in the 1990s to repair the Colosseum. Today it is one of modern-day Rome&rsquos most popular tourist attractions, hosting millions of visitors a year.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, is a large amphitheater that hosted events like gladiatorial games.

The arena

The arena itself was probably covered by a good 15cm of sand (harena), sometimes dyed red to disguise blood. And, as is evident in Ridley Scott's film Gladiator (2000), the arena was dotted with trap-doors designed to let animals leap dramatically into the fray. The arena was also sometimes decorated with elaborate stage scenery, so that the ritual murder could be varied with theatrical tales.

. when the Colosseum opened in AD 80, Titus staged a sea-fight .

The Colosseum's partial destruction allows us to see into the bowels of the amphitheatre, in a way that no ancient could. But when the Colosseum opened in AD 80, Titus staged a sea-fight there (in about one metre of water), and recent research has shown convincingly that the amphitheatre had no basement at this time.

But the rivalrous brother of Titus, Domitian (emperor 81-96), was quick to have a basement built - with ring-formed walls and narrow passages. In this confined space, animals and their keepers, fighters, slaves and stage-hands toiled in the almost total darkness to bring pleasure to Romans.

A series of winches and the capstans would have allowed teams of slaves to pull in unison and hoist heavy animals from the basement to the main arena, and this machinery has been reconstructed, in part, from ancient drawings - aided by the bronze fittings that still survive in the basement's floor. The rope-burns of the hoists are still visible in the stone of the lift-shafts.

Detailed dimensions of the Colosseum - History

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This site has been chosen as a benchmark because it is the universally recognized symbol of the glory of the Roman Empire. It represents the Roman genius for engineering, construction, and innovation in architectural design in the Ancient world. Located in a valley between the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian hills, three of the original "Seven Hills of Rome," the Colosseum occupied a prominent site in the ancient Imperial city of Rome, Italy. Begun by the Emperor Vespasian (the first of the Flavian line) in the year 70 AD, the Flavian Amphitheater, as it was originally known, was completed in June of 80 AD Although the start date of 70 is somewhat in dispute (the historian G. Cozzo puts the groundbreaking at 76 AD, for example, and other sources cite 71 AD), the completion date of 80 AD is well documented. Historians guess that construction required approximately ten or twelve years. Hence, for this document, the dates of construction will be listed as 70 AD -80 AD
The architect of the Flavian Amphitheater is unknown. Emperors are associated with specific architects, but because the Colosseum was constructed during the reigns of no less than three emperors, the architect's identity has proven elusive to historians. During Vespasian's rule, the lowest three tiers were built the job of finishing would fall to his sons, Titus and Domitian (Vespasian's successors, in that order).
It is also unknown when the structure began to be popularly referred to as the "Colosseum" or "Coliseus," rather than the Flavian Amphitheater. Writings of the Venerable Bede in the 8th century represent the first appearance of such a reference in writing. It is believed that upon demolition of the colossal bronze statue of Nero (Vespasian's predecessor) that once stood in front of the amphitheater, the name "Colosseum" became associated with the building.
The Colosseum, which appears to be circular, is actually an ellipse. Its long axis runs WSW- ESE and measures 617' on the exterior and 283' on the interior. The ratio of these axes is 1.2 to 1.3. Its short axis measures 513' on the exterior and 178' on the interior. The seating is set at a grade of37 degrees. In height, the building stands 159' high. A skeletal structure, the Colosseum is constructed of a variety of stones including marble, travertine, yellow tufa, gray tufa, and peperino additional materials such as concrete, wood, and bricks were also employed.
On the exterior, the Colosseum is an endless array of arches. The first three tiers consist of 80 travertine arches, each flanked by attached columns rendered in a different architectural order. All of the arched openings are 13'9' wide, although they vary in height, and are separated by piers that measure 8' 11" in width. The arches of the lowest tier, which appear Doric at first glance but are actually Tuscan, are 23' 1" high. Ionic columns frame the arches of the second story the arches at this level are 21 '2" high. The third story features attached Corinthian columns on the piers between the arches, and the height of these arches is slightly less than that of the second story below. Topping this composition is the fourth floor, the attic, also constructed of travertine. The attic features a full wall with 40 slightly jutting pilasters (attached columns that are rectangular rather than round) with Corinthian capitals that divide 80 panels. These panels were originally adorned with gilt-bronze shields. 40 rectangular windows are placed at regular intervals around the attic story. Additionally, 40 small windows that did not coincide in size or in shape with the windows above them were placed at the lower portion of the attic story. Topping the entire structure is a heavy cornice with consoles, or brackets.
On the attic story, 240 wooden poles were affixed to support the velarium, or canvas awning, which would protect the crowd from the unbearable heat of the Roman sun.
Inside, the Colosseum is a marvel of complex planning and engineering with distinct systems for entrances, exits, and seating pipes for draining water from the building as well as for the lavatories and the labyrinthine series of holding pens and corridors for competitors and animals below the arena's floor. All walkways and stairs are symmetrical throughout the building. It is said that the Colosseum is so masterfully planned, that even with a full complement of 50,000 spectators, the building could be emptied in a matter of minutes. (Note that the figure of 50,000 spectators is somewhat of an approximation. Much archaeological and historic study has gone into determining the building's exact seating capacity.)
One recent scholar has described the interior thus:
On both the ground and second floors double ambulatories run right round [the building], intercommunicating through archways and lit from the external arcades the barrel vaults roofing them spring from a slightly projecting course of travertine. The inner ambulatory on the second floor is divided vertically in two. The third story has two corridors, as wide as those below but lower, and above the outer one a third occupying the depth of the cornice, attic, and base of the fourth story, lit by small windows in that base. There are other corridors running behind the podium, under the gangway between the first and second tiers of seats, and below the second tier. The wedge-shaped spaces of the substructure of the auditorium lead off from the ground floor ambulatories, and were arranged alternately in the following manner: one staircase to the first floor, with two flights, one of which was closed in below, and one passage to the central corridor, by means of which one reached the podium. All these corridors are barrel vaulted, running in at right angles to those of the ambulatories and thus buttressing them to a certain extent the external thrust is taken by the great travertine piers, their blocks held together with bronze dowels. . All the seating was raised above the arena, on a podium of 12' high, with square niches on the face and a rainwater channel 2' away from it. . The third tier and top portico are more difficult to reconstruct they had great granite and cipollino marble columns with Corinthian and Composite capitals. There were at least 11 rows of seating and 53 of benches. (Lugli, p. 21-23.)
The Colosseum was built on the site of the Golden House of Nero, or Domus Aurea, Nero's palace which contained a lake. In fact, the Colosseum sits on the exact spot where the lake was once situated. Thus, Roman engineers and builders had to drain the lake before construction could begin. While this decision to construct a monumental public building of enormous weight on a drained lakebed would seem to be needlessly difficult, there were political and practical reasons that this particular site was chosen. Politically, as Nero (Vespasian's near predecessor) was despised by the populace, Vespasian's actions represented a direct refutation- of Nero's policies and the tenor of his reign. The Domus Aurea was said to contain a round room that rotated continuously, day and night, driven by an underground water wheel. Additionally, every surface in the Domus Aurea was gilded in gold. The great fire of 64 AD decimated the city and destroyed a significant portion of the DomusAurea. After the fire, rebuilding on the Domus began, but ended with Nero's suicide in 68 AD Nero's immediate successor, Ottone, continued construction of the Domus, but with the ascendancy of the Flavians (beginning with Vespasian), construction was terminated. Vespasian had the building demolished, and in a gesture of good will towards the populace, deemed that a public building for the enjoyment of the people should be constructed on the site.
The Colosseum opened in 80 AD with a celebration of bloodshed, and unrelenting violence that lasted 100 days and thrilled the Romans. The entertainment included mass slaughter of wild animals, with 5,000 killed in one day alone. The gladiator fights, with which the Colosseum is associated, occurred in a seemingly endless variety: large group fights lightweights against heavyweights and chariot fights. With trumpets blaring, the arena then filled with water. Horses and bulls, trained to fight in water, were brought in. Gladiators in boats enacted the battle between Corinth and Corfu. As the celebration continued, there were more bloody reenactments of battles, with fire and blood in an endless supply circuses assaults by infantry and cavalry hunting scenes massacres bullfights and chariot races.
The Colosseum continued to be used for gladiatorial fights and bestial slaughter into the 6th century AD. There is no mention of it for 500 years in the historic record. During medieval and modern times, the Colosseum was used for bullfights and plays damaged by several earthquakes owned by various families as well as the Holy See almost converted to a wool factory severely cannibalized of building materials converted to a dung heap almost altered into a cemetery and, in an act that began preservation of the relic, consecrated by Pope Benedict XIV in 1744. By the 18th century, archaeological excavations had begun, and in the 19th century, restoration work started.

This site can be used to address the following themes of World History as recommended by the New York State Regents.
1. The Roman Empire - The Colosseum is recognized internationally as a symbol of the Roman Empire. The Colosseum is testament to the Empire's technological ability and their practice of incorporating various aspects of the lands they conquered, from technological achievements to exotic animals. The Roman Empire was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and fell in 476 AD. A study of the Roman Empire is a classic study in "civilization" following a course in which the civilization grew, flourished, dominated world politics and warfare, and eventually collapsed. Throughout the vast Empire, the Colosseum alone stands as the icon that represents the whole of Roman History.
2. Hierarchies - Roman society was based on a strict system of hierarchies. Even in the Colosseum, these hierarchies were reinforced and conformed to. Women and the lowest classes were only allowed to sit in the uppermost tiers, while the senators, upper classes, and the emperor himself would sit closer to the spectacle. Social hierarchies are considered a key component of civilization and are recognized in many cultures.
3. Christianity - Rome presents a fascinating opportunity to study a society where one religious system replaced another. In the early days of the empire, Roman religion was pantheistic, based on myth, and pagan. Eventually, Christianity, a monotheistic religion, came to dominate the empire. As this transition was occurring Christians were violently persecuted and sent to their deaths in the Colosseum.
4. Judaism - Jews coexisted with Romans before the rise of Christianity. Early Christians were called Nazarenes, and had been Jews.
5. Imperialism - Rome at first was designed to be a democratic society but soon developed into an Imperialistic society. Led by the Emperor, the Roman Empire spanned a vast geographic area with over fifty different provinces. During the height of the Roman Empire, Egypt, Mesopotamia and parts of modern day Britain were part of this Imperial government. As a result of the size of the empire, the Roman government employed a vast army and used various political tactics and public policies to appease the public. In Rome the Colosseum played a central role in maintaining political control over the public. The gladiatorial games and events, held at the Colosseum, were also held elsewhere in the Empire, though on a smaller scale.
6. Persecution - In 249 AD the emperor Decius initiated violent persecution of Christians. A great deal of this persecution occurred at the Colosseum. The years between 303 and 313 AD represented the period of greatest persecution of Christians.
7. Expansionism - The Roman Empire covered a vast geographical area, much of which had been ceased through warfare. Throughout this vast Empire, Roman customs were adopted while many areas maintained their own cultural systems. The Roman Empire exacted a high degree of political domination and it was said, "all roads lead to Rome". Throughout the Empire, the practice of Bread and Circuses was used to maintain control of the populous and all knew of the spectacle of the Colosseum.
8. Public Spectacles and Amusements - The Colosseum was the scene of much public spectacle and amusements. The Colosseum was home to the gladiatorial games. The construction of the Colosseum was focused on providing an arena that would seat thousands, hold slaves, captives and gladiators, hold wild animals and enable to re-creation of battles. The gladiators were skilled fighters who were trained in their particular sport and they often faced captives of conquered lands. The Colosseum played a key role in the policy known as Bread and Circuses. When the public was uneasy or dissatisfied with the emperor, games were often held at the Colosseum to appease the masses. The Colosseum was the arena for Roman citizens entertainment. Are there sports today that resemble gladiator battles? Are boxers, wrestlers, or other athletes the modem descendants of gladiators?
9. Urbanism - Rome was not only the core of a vast, flourishing empire, it was also a vital urban center. The technological achievements of the Colosseum are a testament to the Romans contributions to engineering, urbanism and urban planning.

In English this site can be used to learn about mythology, word origins, literature and travel diaries.
Familiarity with the Colosseum will lead students to an understanding and a context within which to place the stories of Roman Mythology. Who were the Roman gods? What feats did they accomplish? What were their powers? How were they similar to or different from Greek gods?
Learning some basic Latin words and phrases can help students who may be reading classical poetry and literature and can help students understand the Latin roots of many English words, thereby increasing their vocabulary.
There are connections from the Colosseum to numerous aspects of western literature. For example, a study of the Colosseum is a good jumping off point for a reading of any of the Shakespearian plays that are based on Roman history and events. Great modem poets have been inspired by the Colosseum's might, its endurance, and its mass. Edgar Allen Poe, Lord Byron, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are among the poets who have written about the Flavian Amphitheater. In addition to Shakespearean drama, students can use the Colosseum to read George Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion," which takes place in the Colosseum.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, traveling to Rome and Greece became de rigeur amongst well- to-do Americans, British, and western Europeans. In the days before cameras and videotape, travelers kept detailed travel diaries with accurate descriptions of the sites of antiquity. Charles Isadore Hemans, Johann Wolfgang Yon Goethe, and Thomas Cole were among those whose diaries have been republished.

Connections between this site and science are geology, engineering, wind velocity, biodiversity and human body chemistry.
The geology of the Colosseum site and its components are relevant to the science curriculum. The Colosseum was built on top of a drained lakebed. Students can explore the geology of the site and consider what special problems the Romans may have faced in the construction of the Colosseum. Additionally the Colosseum is built of travertine and various types of tufa, have students explore the properties of these materials and consider why they might have been chosen for the construction of the Colosseum.
The Colosseum was well-known as a feat of engineering. Explore the interior water systems of the Colosseum making comparisons to modem systems. Consider how effective the water systems of the Colosseum might have been. The sub-level beneath the arena floor contained a vast network of passageways and holding pens for the animals. Additionally, there were wooden hoists that lifted gladiators and/or animals directly onto the arena floor. How were these hoists constructed? What mechanisms did they employ? What relation do they bear to modern trap doors on a stage?
The ve/arium, the canopy that was stretched over the top of the Colosseum in intense sun or rain, had to be operated by 100 expert sailors with extensive knowledge of wind velocity. Consider how different wind speeds and directions might have affected the massive canvas valerium.
Identify and research the many animals that competed in games at the Colosseum. The Romans captured many of these animals. Students can consider the effect of the capture and slaughter of these animals on animal populations and biodiversity. Make modern comparisons to hunting identifying how some animals have been hunted to extinction.
Gladiators must have had adrenaline coursing through their veins as they faced down another gladiator or a wild animal. What are the biochemical changes that are produced when fear is present? What changes in brain activity take place? Do humans and animals have the same biochemical response to fear?

Connections between this site and mathematics are Roman numerals, geometric shapes and proportion and ratio.
Students may reinforce and enhance their knowledge of Roman numerals using the Colosseum. One of the most common uses of Roman numerals today is on cornerstones showing the date of a building's construction. Have students locate several examples of such cornerstones and "'translate" the Roman numerals. What is different between this system and ours?
Explore the geometry of the Colosseum, which is actually an ellipse, not circular. Define an ellipse and explore how can its area and perimeter be found? Determine these measurements for the Colosseum. Identify other geometric shapes that can be found on or within the structure of the Colosseum and how they too can be measured.
Amphitheaters were built on the basis of a ratio. In the Colosseum, what was this ratio? From what was it derived? Are modem arenas built according to a similar ratio? What are other applications of the same principle?

Some recommended activities to use with the site are to view the movie Gladiator in which the Colesseum was recreated using computer imaging, perform anyone of Shakespeare's plays that are set in Ancient Rome, write a poem that pays tribute to the Colosseum, build a model of the Colosseum and make conjectures about how the valerium would work including a working valerium in the model.

Some local buildings which relate to themes addressed in this unit and could be used for additional study are:
Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Ashe Stadium or Madison Square Garden - All are examples of modem arenas.
Grand Central Terminal - designed based on the Roman Baths of Caracalla

Some recommended activities to use on a visit to this site are not applicable. It is unlikely that the students will visit the Colosseum. However, if students did visit a modem arena, it would be interesting to ask them to compare the types of spectacles, which took place in each place and compare the technological advancements in each. Students might also compare the measurements or seating capacity of the two.

Some other ideas, which could be explored or expanded on having to do with this site, are Create a map of Rome at the time of the Colosseum's construction. Which buildings still stand? Which buildings pre-date the Colosseum? Which buildings are contemporaneous with the Colosseum? Research the changing role animals have played in terms of providing entertainment for humans Study the reigns of Nero and Vespasian. Compare and contrast these two rulers. What programs did each initiate? What kind of warriors were these two leaders? What building programs did these emperors embark upon? Create a mosaic (in the style of a Roman mosaic) that illustrates a tale from Roman mythology. Visit the Roman collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Cozzo, Giuseppe. The Colosseum. Fratelli Palombi Editors n.d.
Includes origins of the Colosseum information about the amphitheater form detailed information about structure and construction, such as: the foundations working methods and materials scaffolding worksites the arena the hypogeum the animal lifts stage scenery and equipment the velarium more.

Gabucci, Ada, ed. Tguide he Colosseum. J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles. 2001.
Chapters from different contributors include: The World of the Gladiators The Colosseum in the Urban and Demographic Context of Imperial Rome The Gladiators: The Architecture and Function of the Colosseum The Colosseum Through the Centuries and the Water System of the Colosseum. Lushly illustrated.

Lugli, Giuseppe. The Flavian Amphitheatre. Bardi Rome. 1969.
Excellent, scholarly, and short overall introduction and background.

Pearson, John. Arena: The Story of the Colosseum. McGraw-Hill New York. 1973.
Includes 151 black-and-white illustrations. Good general background, plus detailed information about the 100-day celebration that marked the opening of the Colosseum construction details the political context within which the Colosseum was built and a good chapter on the Emperor Vespasian.

Quennell, Peter. The Colosseum. Newsweek Book Division New York. 1971.
Beautifully photographed includes a chronology of Roman history literary references detailed construction information.

Szegedy-Maszak, Andrew. "A Perfect Ruin," in Archaeology (Jan./Feb. 1990), p. 74-79.
About how historically, travelers have reveled in enjoying the Colosseum as a ruin.

Teutonico, Jeanne Marie. "Colosseum Controversy," in Progressive Architecture (Nov. 1984), p. 29-30.
Interesting article about a controversial use of the Colosseum today.
Includes contemporary photos, plan drawings, 3-D spatial model, commentary, and resources.
Basic background with contemporary photos. Page also includes information on Constantine's Architecture. Rome's Beginning Forums Pantheon Roman Walls Roman Baths Circus Maximus Catacombs Roman Theaters and Pompeii.
Architectural specifications, exterior and interior shots. Links: Roman architecture outside the city of Rome the Capitoline Arches Roman secular buildings the City of Ancient Rome the Palatine Hill in Rome the Roman Forum Pompeii Roman Architecture and Construction Techniques.
(In Italian and English.) Site includes a history section (history, chronology, emperors, Middle Ages, quarry) a section on the games (munera, gladiators, Ad Bestias, Ludi, Hunts, Silvae, and Naumachiae) and a section on the architecture (description, construction-foundations, the site, the building, building strategy [in Italian only], marble, materials). Also includes FAQs and a web cam.
In 1998, as part of the PBS series Nova, experts hypothesized how the Romans protected Colosseum-goers from the sun. The experts-an engineer and a classicist-experimented with different methods. Site includes archived questions and answers with the experts and a teacher's guide.

Good architectural background with information about construction techniques and specifications. Includes image with reconstruction of Colossus of Nero in front and archival photos (1890-before excavations). Also includes pages on Roman Temples and Altars Palaces Civil Engineering Monuments Public Buildings Sculpture and Mosaics.
In Italian, English, Spanish, and French. Includes the Roman Gazetteer, a commented photo album of Roman towns and monuments. Also includes seven texts from antiquity (some translated into French and English, others only in Latin) a photo index William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (an 1875 encyclopedia in the public domain) and a Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome by Samuel Bell Plater (a scholarly encyclopedia with hundreds of articles on the remains of antiquity within Rome).

Buildings for athletics in Ancient Greece and Rome. Has great aerial photos.

Detailed dimensions of the Colosseum - History

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater was begun by Vespasian, inaugurated by Titus in 80 A.D. and completed by Domitian. Located on marshy land between the Esquiline and Caelian Hills, it was the first permanent amphitheater to be built in Rome. Its monumental size and grandeur as well as its practical and efficient organization for producing spectacles and controlling the large crowds make it one of the great architectural monuments achieved by the ancient Romans.

The amphitheater is a vast ellipse with tiers of seating for 50,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena. Below the wooden arena floor, there was a complex set of rooms and passageways for wild beasts and other provisions for staging the spectacles. Eighty walls radiate from the arena and support vaults for passageways, stairways and the tiers of seats. At the outer edge circumferential arcades link each level and the stairways between levels.

The three tiers of arcades are faced by three-quarter columns and entablatures, Doric in the first story, Ionic in the second, and Corinthian in the third. Above them is an attic story with Corinthian pilasters and small square window openings in alternate bays. At the top brackets and sockets carry the masts from which the velarium, a canopy for shade, was suspended.

The construction utilized a careful combination of types: concrete for the foundations, travertine for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, and brick-faced concrete used for the upper levels and for most of the vaults.

The Colosseum was designed to hold 50,000 spectators, and it had approximately eighty entrances so crowds could arrive and leave easily and quickly.

The plan is a vast ellipse, measuring externally 188 m x 156 m (615 ft x 510 ft), with the base of the building covering about 6 acres. Vaults span between eighty radial walls to support tiers of seating and for passageways and stairs.

The facade of three tiers of arches and an attic story is about 48.5 m (158 ft) tall — roughly equivalent to a 12-15 story building.

Robert Adam. Classical Architecture . London: Penguin Books, 1990. ISBN 0-670-82613-8. NA260.A26 1990. elevation drawing of three bays, fig d, p129. Derek Brentnall. bottom

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings . Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. half-plan and section drawings, p33.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. diagram, p173. — Updated edition available at

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1537.020. PCD.2260.1012.1537.021. PCD.2260.1012.1537.022.

Great Cities of the Ancient World : Rome & Pompeii . 1993. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6302946395. — Video - Available at

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

David Macaulay. Roman City . PBS Home Video, 1994. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN B00000FAHH. — Video - Available at

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1 . Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. plan drawing in quarters at various levels, p82. no image credit.

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, August 1993. PCD.3189.1011.1916.050. PCD.3189.1011.1916.051.

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism . New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986. plan, section, photos, p125. — Available at

Doreen Yarwood. The Architecture of Europe . New York: Hastings House, 1974. ISBN 0-8038-0364-8. LC 73-11105. NA950.Y37. detail drawing in elevation of doric order, f91, p42.

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