The Roman Coliseum
Picture Courtesy of David Iliff
The Roman Coliseum (Colosseum), also in ancient times known as Flavian Amphitheater, is a huge amphitheater found in the middle of Rome. It is the largest structure of its kind built by the mighty Empire. It is one of the greatest works of Rome's architecture ever built. It was originally capable of holding more than fifty-thousand people.
Building on the Coliseum began under Vespasian around 72 A.D. The location chosen for the massive Roman structure was on a body of water known as 'Nero's lake,' which at one time was a part of Nero's palace. The structure was not completely finished until the time of Titus. During the celebration of the amphitheater's completion, more than ten thousand animals were killed within its walls.
Roman Games, Shows, and Naval Battles
The Coliseum hosted large-scale spectacular games that included fights between animals, the killing of prisoners by animals and other executions, naval battles (via flooding the arena and bringing in ships) up until 81 A.D., and combats between gladiators (munera). They were always given by private individuals rather than the state. It has been estimated that several hundreds of thousands died in the Coliseum games. Fights between animals, death matches between prisoners and wild beasts, naval battles (the structure was built to allow enough water into it to allow ships to float!) were held in the structure.