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Roman Colosseum

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The Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, is an amphitheater in Rome, capable of seating 45,000 spectators, which was once used for gladiator combat.

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Its construction began under the Emperor Vespasian, circa 70 A.D. and was completed by his son, Domitian, in the 80s A.D. It was built near the site of Nero's enormous palace, later destroyed in the great fire of Rome. There was a colossus (a very tall statue) of Nero nearby, from which legend says the Colosseum's name was derived. This statue was later remodeled by Nero's successors into the likeness of Sol the sun god by adding the appropriate solar crown.

The Colosseum hosted large-scale spectacular games that included fights between animals, the killing of prisoners by animals and other executions, naval battles, and combats between gladiators.

The Colosseum was ingeniously designed. It has been said that most spectacle areas (stadiums, and similar) have been inspired by concepts expressed in the Colosseum's structure, even in modern times. It could be evacuated in about five minutes. The most ingenious part of the Colosseum was its cooling system. It was roofed using a canvas covered net-like structure made of ropes, with a hole in the center. This roof sloped down towards the center to catch the wind and provide a breeze for the audience. The Colosseum also had vomitoria - a passageway that opens into a tier of seats from below or behind. The vomitoria of the Colosseum in Rome were designed so that the immense venue could fill in 15 minutes. (There were 80 entrances at ground level, 76 for ordinary spectators and 4 for the imperial family.) The vomitoria quickly dispersed people into their seats and upon conclusion of the event disgorged them with abruptness into the surrounding streets - giving rise, presumably, to the name.

In the Middle Ages, the Colosseum was converted into a fortress[?] and the marble burned to make quicklime. During the Renaissance, but mostly in the Baroque age, the ruling Roman families (from which many Popes of the Catholic Church came) used it as a source of marble for the construction of St. Peters Basilica and the private Palazzi. A famous description is in the saying Quod non fecerunt Barbari, fecerunt Barberini; what the Barbarians weren't able to do, was done by the Barberinis (one such family).

As part of a campaign against the death penalty during the year 2000, the colosseum was illuminated with gold light for two days whenever a country abolished the death sentence or death sentences were commuted anywhere. This happened 17 times. [1] (http://www.santegidio.org/en/pdm/colosseo.htm)

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