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Weird History

How Did The Romans Build The Colosseum?

One of the world's most notable feats of architecture is the Colosseum in Rome. Opened in 80 CE by Emperor Titus, this massive structure existed solely to entertain the masses with gladiator fights, animal skirmishes, and, at some point, miniature naval conflicts. While it only took the Romans less than a decade to construct the Colosseum, careful calculation and planning were required. Architects and workers put extensive thought into every detail, from the amphitheater's architectural symmetry to its complex underground maze of corridors and capstans.

For centuries, we have tried to imagine what occurred in the Colosseum, fleshing out a gory fantasy in film and media. For instance, the movie Gladiator, for all its inaccuracies, attempts to create an image of how Romans lived and fought. What we don't see is the grueling work - typically done by enslaved people - it took to put on one of the Colosseum's gruesome shows. Like sex in Ancient Rome, gladiator fights were about power, both of the Roman empire and of individuals. The complexity and grandiosity of the Colosseum's construction helped to assert that power all the more.

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