“What is the Colosseum?”
Jan Scott - Year 11 Ancient History
Who decided the construction for the colosseum and what are the theories existing revealing the purpose of the construction? (600)
What are the conservation issues or problems in relation to the colosseum? (400)
What was the significance of the Colosseum that makes it so important to preserve? (700)
What’s the evidence or research techniques used to determine the history of the Colosseum? (300)
Who initiated construction and theories relating to the purpose
The Colosseum, located in Rome is one of Italy’s most popular and famous tourist attractions. The construction of the large colosseum had started through the request of Emperor Vespasian. Vespasian became Emperor of Rome in 69 A.D after the terrible period of Nero’s reign; Emperor Vespasian removed Nero’s Golden house, turning it into a public park, he also tore down the Colossus which was Nero’s giant gold statue and used the money from it to help fund the construction of the amphitheatre. The name of the amphitheatre, the Colosseum was derived from the Colossus. Though, this is a debated fact, whether the name Colosseum was just mistakenly applied to the amphitheatre which is also known as the Flavian amphitheatre as it was built by the family of Flavian emperors, Vespasian and Titus.
Construction of the Colosseum started between 70 and 72 AD and was completed over a 10 year period in 80 AD. Vespasian died before the completion of the Colosseum and his eldest son Titus foresaw the finalization of the amphitheatre. A number of sources state that from around 20 000 - 100 000 Roman prisoners or Jewish slaves were brought back to Rome to build the Colosseum. The process of construction was made up of a combination of skilled and un-skilled workers; Plebeians were involved in the planning stages, meaning they obtained jobs such as engineers, foremen, artists, and teamsters whilst Jewish slaves to Rome and prisoners made up the majority of the labour.
It’s mainly found that the amphitheatre was built as a ‘pleasure palace’ for pure entertainment and to be the biggest and best of its kind. Vespasian however did this to impress both the citizens and the gods by gaining their fondness. Contrasting from Greek’s last emperor, Nero, Vespasian wanted to be praised by the citizens and be a ruler rather than a tyrant. Through the construction of the biggest and best amphitheatre, he wanted to make a great contribution to the citizens in which everyone would be talking about.
Another contention which arose around the reasoning behind the construction of the Colosseum was to honor the imperial builders of the amphitheatre, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. An additional theory behind the building of the Colosseum was a way to showcase to anyone from abroad the wealth, strength, building and engineering skills of the Roman’s through the brawn of their famous Gladiators and the remarkable architecture of the amphitheatre in which the Gladiators fought at.
The Colosseum has also been known to have been built, like any other amphitheatre which held gladiator games, to use gladiator shows as commemoration for relatives and loved ones which had deceased. Attendants would dress up as gods; slaves who tested fallen gladiators with a red-hot cauterizing iron to see if they were dead or pretending were dressed up as the god Mercury. Those dragging dead bodies away dressed as the god of the underworld Pluto and during the Christian executions, victims were dressed as priest and priestess’s of pagan cults.
However during the Middle Ages, the memory and meaning of the Colosseum was lost and people started to believe that the Colosseum was only constructed for the devil. Conservation issues or problems
It’s estimated that only 20% of the original structure of the Colosseum is still remaining. In 1973 conservators started an $18 million project to stabilize...
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