What Did the Roman Colosseum Look Like in Ancient Times?

The Roman Colosseum is one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy. Built almost 2,000 years ago, it has since become a symbol of ancient Rome and a popular tourist destination. But what did the Colosseum look like in ancient times?

The Architecture
The Colosseum was an immense amphitheater that could hold up to 80,000 spectators. It was built entirely out of stone and concrete, with four floors and eighty arches that encircled the structure. Each archway contained numbered entrances that allowed spectators to quickly find their seats.

The Seating Arrangements
The seating arrangements were also quite impressive. The lower levels were reserved for the wealthy and noble classes, while the upper levels were for the common people. Women were seated separately from men to avoid any potential disturbances.

  • Lower Levels: Patricians and Senators
  • Upper Levels: Common People
  • Women: Seated Separately from Men

The Arena
The arena itself was an enormous oval shape, measuring 280 feet by 170 feet. The sand-covered floor was specially designed to absorb blood so that it would not become slippery during games.

The Games

The Colosseum was used for a variety of events including gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and even naval battles (known as naumachiae). These games were often brutal displays of violence that were intended to entertain and excite the audience.

Gladiatorial Contests

Gladiators were trained professionals who fought against each other or wild animals for the entertainment of the crowd. They wore distinctive armor and weapons depending on their fighting style, which ranged from heavy infantry to lightly armed skirmishers.

Animal Hunts

Animal hunts were equally as popular as gladiatorial contests. The Colosseum was home to a wide range of exotic animals like lions, tigers, and elephants. The animals were often pitted against each other in brutal battles to the death.

Naval Battles

Naval battles (or naumachiae) were also a popular event at the Colosseum. The arena would be flooded with water and model ships would be used to recreate famous naval battles from history.

The Decline
The Colosseum remained in use for nearly 500 years before falling into disrepair. By the 6th century AD, it had been abandoned and left to decay. Over time, it was used as a quarry for building materials and even a makeshift housing complex.

Today, the Colosseum stands as a testament to the ingenuity of ancient Roman architecture and engineering. Despite its tumultuous past, it remains one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy and a must-see destination for visitors from around the world.