The Roman Coliseum
One of the bloodiest places the world has ever seen – outside of a battlefield – was the Roman Coliseum. Gladiators battled other gladiators, animals, and condemned criminals. The building was one of the architectural triumphs of Ancient Rome.
Amazing But True!
- The Coliseum was built in only 10 years, from 70 AD to 80 AD.
- Romans were resourceful. The materials they used were rocks or mostly modified from rocks: travertine, tuff, tiles and concrete.
- Travertine is a form of limestone that was used for the main pillars of the arches. Travertine slabs were secured to the outer wall of the building with iron clamps.
- Tuff is solidified volcanic ash that was used in the cement and as infill.
- Tiles were made of sand, straw and ash.
- Romans developed Roman concrete, made of ash, pumice and quicklime. Concrete allowed their buildings to be larger and more complex.
- Quicklime is made by heating limestone in a kiln until it undergoes a chemical reaction that makes a thick paste.
Show What You Know
With the links below, learn more about the Roman Coliseum. Then answer the following questions.
- The-Colosseum.net, the resourceful site on the Colosseum, Materials: http://www.the-colosseum.net/architecture/materials_en.htm
- Tickitaly.com The Colosseum, Rome: http://www.tickitaly.com/galleries/colosseum-rome-italy.php
- National Geographic, Building Rome’s Coliseum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO1NQy4oyJs
- Why did the use of the arch allow the Romans to make such a large building?
- How could such a large and complex structure be built in 10 years without modern machinery and fossil fuels?
- Why didn’t the Romans just use stone to create their Coliseum?
- Why was the floor of the coliseum covered with sand?
- Where were the animals kept?