Saturday, January 2, 2010

I received an email the other day which had some pictures of a huge statue of Christ called Christ redeemer which is located in Rio de janero, Brasil.

Then I read that this statue has been declared as one of the Seven wonders of the World.

So after some research, I decided to post something about each Seven wonders of the World. Which one should I begin with was my dilemma. Funny as it may sounds I choose to start with the Roman Colosseum in Rome, Italy because I was thinking of having a pizza for dinner.

Anyway, here it goes.

The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheater is an elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96). The name "Amphitheater Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name.

Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions , re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical Mythlogy. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

It has been estimated that about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals died in the Colosseum games.

Construction of the Colosseum began under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian in around 70–72AD. The site chosen was a flat area on the floor of a low valley between the Caelian, Esquiline and Palatine hills, through which a canalized stream ran. By the 2nd century BC the area was densely inhabited. It was devastated by the Great fire of Rome in AD 64, following which Nero seized much of the area to add to his personal domain.

He built the grandiose Domus Aurea on the site, in front of which he created an artificial lake surrounded by pavilions, gardens and porticoes. The existing Aqua Claudia aqueduct was extended to supply water to the area and the gigantic bronze Colossus of Nero set up nearby at the entrance to the Domus Aurea.

The Colosseum had been completed up to the third story by the time of Vespasian's death in 79. The top level was finished and the building inaugurated by his son,, Titus in 80, Dio Casius recounts that over 9,000 wild animals were killed during the inaugural games of the amphitheatre. The building was remodelled further under Vespasian's younger son, the newly designated Emperor Domitian, who constructed the Hypogeum, a series of underground tunnels used to house animals and slaves. He also added a gallery to the top of the Colosseum to increase its seating capacity.

The Colosseum is today one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions, receiving millions of visitors annually. The effects of pollution and general deterioration over time prompted a major restoration programme carried out between 1993 and 2000, at a cost of 40 billion Italian lire ($19.3m / €20.6m at 2000 prices).

In recent years it has become a symbol of the international campaign against capital punishment, which was abolished in Italy in 1948. Several anti–death penalty demonstrations took place in front of the Colosseum in 2000. Since that time, as a gesture against the death penalty, the local authorities of Rome change the color of the Colosseum's night time illumination from white to gold whenever a person condemned to the death penalty anywhere in the world gets their sentence commuted or is released, or if a jurisdiction abolishes the death penalty. Most recently, the Colosseum was illuminated in gold when capital punishment was abolished in the American state of New Mexico in April 2009.

Here are some facts about the coliseum:

The height of each floor is approximately between 32 to 42 feet. The total height of the entire structure is roughly 144 feet. The size of the arena is 79 x 45 meters. In Latin "arena" means, "sand". The arena of the Coliseum consisted of wood and sand. There were tall nets along the sides of the Coliseum to protect the spectators.

The seats were arranged according to the social status of the spectators. The seats on the first three tiers from the top were usually reserved for the nobles while the common man used the seats on the fourth tier.

An important fact that is noteworthy is Coliseum is designed in such a manner that entire spectators could be dispersed in a matter of five minutes. The interior of the Coliseum is divided into an arena where the performance used to take place; podiums, and a cavea, where the animals were confined before the combat.

Important questions like who were the Gladiators and what happened in the arena are answered here:

The gladiators were made up of prisoners of war, slaves, criminals, and volunteer free men. The crimes that could lead one to the arena included treason, robbery, and murder, among others. Some free men became gladiators of their own free will in hopes of gaining notoriety and patronage among the wealthy citizens. By the end of 50 BC almost half of the gladiators were made up of free men.

Many gladiators were paid well for their presentation. Tiberius paid 1000 gold pieces to each ex-gladiator for one performance. The free man, Publius Ostorius, a famous gladiator at Pompeii, survived 51 fights. Some women even volunteered in hopes of winning fame but they were banned from fighting by Severus in 200 AD.

The games in Rome are known today as the bloodiest exhibitions of public entertainment known to mankind. Men, women and children flocked to the Colosseum to watch the bloodthirsty fighter's murder one another. They even cheered them on and screamed for them to kill a warrior lying almost dead on the ground. The gladiators had no problem killing one another because being a gladiator was an occupation for social outcasts and barbaric men.

The gigantic Colosseum, built around 80 AD, seated 50,000 people. The people came from all over the Roman Empire and regions of Africa, Italy, and Rome. The games became a way of entertaining the wealthy, as well as the common people. Most would sit all day and watch as men fought with one another and also with animals such as lions, bears, and even buffaloes.

More on the remaining Six in my next following posts.


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