Tag Archives: colosseum

Unexpected find: Seating plan for Rome’s Colosseum

Unexpected find: Seating plan for Rome's Colosseum

A man dressed as a gladiator enjoys his lunch in front of Rome’s Colosseum, Friday Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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

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Archaeologists: For centuries, Rome’s Colosseum was a ‘condo’

Archaeologists: For centuries, Rome's Colosseum was a 'condo'

This once used to be a … “condo”?AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

If only these walls could talk. Rome’s iconic Colosseum, built nearly 20 centuries ago in 72 AD, has long been known as the site of gory gladiator battles and animal slaughter.

Now, archaeologists who spent three weeks studying an excavated area beneath some 80 arched entrances that opened up into the arena say that after the Roman empire crumbled, the ancient structure came to house—gasp!—ordinary Romans, reports the Telegraph.

Discovery likens the Colosseum to a “huge condominium” from the 800s until at least 1349, when a major earthquake inflicted significant damage. “This excavation has allowed us to identify an entire housing lot from the late medieval period,” explains the Colosseum’s director.

Among the findings: terracotta sewage pipes, pottery shards, the likely presence of stables and workshops, and the foundation of a wall that marked the boundaries of one of the properties.

They believe that friars from the nearby Santa Maria Nova convent, who controlled the building for a time, rented out square feet within the Colosseum as housing.

The amphitheater, no longer used as an arena, became a huge courtyard, they say, thriving with people, animals, and goods. Archaeologists even found a tiny monkey figurine carved in ivory, likely a chess pawn.

Smithsonian notes other unexpected uses followed: In the 1500s, Pope Sixtus attempted to make the Colosseum a wool factory. (On US shores, archaeologists are trying to solve the mystery of Plymouth colony.)

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Rome – An Ancient Super City

Rome – Ancient Super City

Rome

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