By Neal Colgrass
Published January 27, 2015
Spectators who once flocked to Rome’s Colosseum could find their seats with the help of red numbers painted over entrance archways. What’s amazing is that hints of that paint still remain, Discovery reports.
A team restoring the Colosseum has spotted remnants of it in Latin numerals carved high up on an entrance gate. “This is an exceptional discovery because we did not expect that some trace of the red paint was still preserved,” Colosseum Director Rossella Rea tells the International Business Times.
The red color, derived from clay minerals and iron oxide, had to be repainted every two or three years—which makes the find that much more unexpected.
It also casts a light on how Romans found their seats when going to watch gladiators, wild beasts, and public executions. “The 50,000 spectators had a ticket that said which numbered gate arch they were supposed to enter,” says Rea.
“Inside the arena, there were other numbers to help people access their seats, which were assigned according to social class.” Admittance was free, but of course the emperor had the best seat in his private box, New Historian reports.
Rome’s social and political elite also sat high up, followed by upper-class businessmen and government officials, ordinary Roman men, and finally women and the poor, who had to sit or stand on wood benches.
Built in 70AD, the Colosseum is undergoing a $33 million restoration to clean off dirt that’s accumulated since the Middle Ages. (After its glory days, researchers say, the Colosseum became a “condo.”)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Surprise Find: Seating Plan for Rome’s Colosseum