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The Colosseum is a massive stone amphitheater built in 70 A.D. in the city of Rome, Italy. In ancient times, it was called the Flavian Amphitheater after the dynasty of Emperor Vespasian who built the arena for public games, gladiator combats and animal fights.
See the fact file below for more information on the Colosseum or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Colosseum worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The term Colosseum came from the Latin word colosseus in reference to the statue of Emperor Nero, which was erected near the site of the amphitheater.
- Ancient Rome experienced a series of civil wars after the death of Emperor Nero in 68 A.D. The fourth emperor after Nero was Vespasian, who ruled the city for 10 years. Along with his sons, Titus and Domitian, the Flavian emperors tried to revive senate authority and advocate for public welfare.
- In 70 A.D., Emperor Vespasian decreed the building of a grand amphitheater on the site of Nero’s Golden Palace. He returned the center of the city to the Roman people for the public to enjoy many forms of entertainment such as gladiatorial combats.
- After some years, Emperor Titus dedicated the opening of the amphitheater with 100 days of games.
- Like his father, Titus was a well-loved emperor. He focused on recovery after the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The final construction of the amphitheater was done by his brother, Domitian.
Structure and Events at the Grand Amphitheater
- The amphitheater covers six acres of land. It stands 50 meters high, 189 meters long, and 156 meters wide. Its outer circumference measures 545 meters and had a capacity to accommodate an audience of 50,000 to 80,000 people.
- Unlike other ancient Roman amphitheaters, the Colosseum is a freestanding stone and concrete structure at the center of the city. It was not built on a hillside.
- Over 60,000 Jewish slaves and skilled Roman builders took nine years to build it. The exterior had three stories of arched entrances supported by semi-circular columns. At the bottom, columns were in Doric order, followed by Ionic order, and the top with Corinthian order.
- Emperor Domitian added the hypogeum beneath the arena. The hypogeum consists of two-level subterranean tunnels with 32 animal pens. He also included a gallery at the top to increase audience capacity.
- In 315 A.D., the Arch of Constantine was built near the main entrance of the Colosseum.
- Spectators were presumably seated according to social ranking but in dense spaces. The main pedestals were built of marble blocks.
- The velarium was a retractable awning covering the Colosseum, which provided shade in the hot and sunny climate.
- Early Romans watched gladiator combats, wild animal fights, animal hunting, dramas based on mythology, executions and mock sea battles at the amphitheater. During mock sea battles, the floor of the arena was flooded with water.
- Most of the gladiators who fought at the Colosseum were slaves, prisoners or criminals. Gladiators had different entrance and exit doors.
- Victorious gladiators would exit the arena through the Porta Triumphalis, while those who were defeated and killed were dragged to Porta Libitinensis or the Gate of Death up to the Spolarium, where they were stripped. Those who were defeated but spared exited through the Porta Sanavivaria.
- During games, the emperor would be seated in the pulvinar, located at the podium. There were 42 emperors who witnessed the carnage at the amphitheater.
- Wild and exotic animals provided a spectacle to early Romans. Wild boars, bulls, bears, stags, deer, dogs, wolves, buffalo, snakes, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, jaguars, apes, elephants and rhinoceros were shown.
After the Glorious Years
- The Roman Colosseum was in active use for four centuries. By the 6th century A.D., the Western Roman Empire struggled to put an end to large public entertainment along with gladiator fights. At the same time, some parts of the arena were damaged by lighting and earthquakes.
- In the subsequent centuries, materials from the Colosseum were used in building large infrastructure like the St. Peter’s Cathedral, Palazzo Venezia and fortifications along the Tiber River.
- By the 20th century, nearly two-thirds of the amphitheater had experienced damage due to natural disasters, vandalism and neglect.
- In 2007, the Roman Colosseum was listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World, along with the Great Wall of China, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza, and India’s Taj Mahal.
Roman Colosseum Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Roman Colosseum across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Roman Colosseum worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Colosseum which is a massive stone amphitheater built in 70 A.D. in the city of Rome, Italy. In ancient times, it was called the Flavian Amphitheater after the dynasty of Emperor Vespasian who built the arena for public games, gladiator combats and animal fights.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Roman Colosseum Facts
- The Colosseum
- New Seven Wonders of the World
- The Grand Amphitheater
- Colosseum Columns
- Roman Life
- Italy’s Best
- Roman Word Hunt
- World Wondering
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Link will appear as Colosseum Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 15, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.