Roman Coliseum

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Located in the center of Rome, just east of the Roman Forum stands one of the greatest architectural structures ever built by man. In 64 AD, under Emperor Nero, the Great Fire of Rome devastated the empire. Nero decided to take the land for himself and build the Domus Aurea along with a synthetic lake, gardens, and pavilions. A series of vast aqueducts was constructed there in order to supply water to the land. Afterwards, he placed a bronze statue of himself, Colossus of Nero. When Emperor Vespasian came into power, he preserved the Colossus, but he would turn the Domus Aurea was to be demolished and become the sight of the Flavian Amphitheatre. This new theatre was to be a triumphal monument, enjoying success. Vespasian, unlike Nero, wanted to give the land to the public to use, so the Amphitheatre was to be built in the middle of the city and no where else, displaying the importance the emperor stressed about the land being available to the public. Emperor Vespasian began the construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, later to become known as the Roman Coliseum. The name of the architect of this vast structure is unknown. The Coliseum, built out of concrete and stone is the largest amphitheater ever built in the Roman Empire and considered one of the greatest compositions of Roman architecture and engineering. The story goes that a half a million Christians died violent deaths just to entertain the people of the Roman Empire. Over one million animals died in the Coliseum as well. The men fought the animals as well as each other, along with other various events in an ancient Roman tradition known today as the Coliseum Games. Today the Coliseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world with an estimated 3.9 million visitors each year. The architectural layout of the Coliseum changed the way monuments and other buildings were designed and constructed as well as paved the way for modern architecture to be defined by the way the Romans designed their infrastructures. That being said, without any maintenance or human aid of any kind, the Coliseum could outlast any modern building today.

The amazing architecture of the Coliseum is contributed to the innovative designs of Roman engineers. The implementation of the use of arches to support the vast structure instead of the usual steel support beams allowed the Coliseum to become able to withstand the tests of time. By excluding steel support structures, the concrete used in the development of this architectural phenomenon was able to withstand the tests of time because without steel, there is no where for the concrete to expand and contract causing stress cracks in the infrastructure. The Roman Coliseum stands 157 feet high, 513 feet wide, 620 feet long, and with a perimeter of 1,788 feet. It was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire. It was designed to mimic two Greek theater’s placed back to back. The structure could hold 50,000-80,000 spectators with seating for Nobles as well as common man. The Coliseum has four floors: the first is 34 feet, the second is 38 feet, the third is 37 feet, and the fourth is 45 feet. The first three floors all have available seating while the fourth is standing room only. The facade, the outside of the structure of the Coliseum is designed to follow the traditional, classical rules of design. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian’s columns encircle each floor of this architectural spectacle. The structure was way ahead of its time, by failing to include steel support beams and simply constructing the whole Coliseum simply out of concrete. The Romans invented concrete, using travertine, a hard stone that rivals today’s use of limestone. It took 7,500 tons of travertine to construct the Coliseum. Volcanic ash was used as an aggregate to hold the blocks of concrete together. The volcanic ash was so dense; water could not penetrate the concrete and expand during times of freezing and thawing. It included 80 arches surrounding each...
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