Roman Colosseum is in urgent need of restoration!

Posted: September 15, 2009 in Archaeology, General, History
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The big world-famous gladiatorial arena in Rome Colosseum or known as the Flavian Amphitheater is in critical condition. It is about 2000 years old and old buildings need restoration.

The facade of the mighty arena have started to crumble and pieces are falling down. According to the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemmano it is important that action happens immediately otherwise the arena will suffer the consequences. It will cost at least £ 4.5 millions to keep the building in good condition and Italy is now pleading to its government and other countries to help.

The restoration of the Colosseum is part of a bigger plan to restore the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the jumbled collection of ruined temples and palaces which formed the heart of the Roman Empire. The full estimated cost is £35 million.

A whole of 60 percent of the Rome’s archaeological sites aren’t accessible which is truly alarming both for scientists and for the public. To show the cultural heritage to people is important especially since it belongs to everyone and time will destroy it if nothing is done. The Colosseum could have 50 000 spectators and had big gladiator fights including animals and once there were a big sea battle when the whole Colosseum was filled with water and real ships fought at the arena. The Colosseum have 4 million visitors each year.

As an archaeologist I hope that the Italian government and other countries in the world will help out so the grand arena can stand and be viewed and remembered for another 2000 years!

Read the full article here

Update about the name, see comments as well.

It was interesting that you mentioned that. I added the term Flavian Amphitheatre since that seemed to be the common term and often related to be the original one.

After quite a lot of research in different sources I tend to agree with you Patrik. It seems like it is most mentioned as Amphiteatrum. The latin term Amphiteatrum Flavium Flavius, from the gens Flavia might be a late invention.

In archaeologists books it is often refered to as Amphiteatrum Flavium and that Colosseum is a late name. But when I tried to find anyone that give a reference to an ancient text with the word Amphiteatrum Flavium I couldn’t find any.

As an example it is mentioned in A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, London: Oxford University Press, 1929. as Amphiteatrum Flavium it seems to refer to an another 20th century book Spinazzola, Anfiteatro Flavio Naples, 1907.
So it seems like Amphiteatrum Flavium is not an ancient term for the Colosseum. The most correct term I could find from the Romans is that it was named Amphitheatrum Caesareum or hunting theater or simply Amphiteatrum.

Here is a few exampels:
l. CHRONOGR. a 354: Hic (Vespasianus) prior tribus gradibus amphiteatrum dedicavit.
2. CHRONOGR. a. 354: Hic (Titus) amphitheatro a tribus gradibus patris sui duos adiecit.
7. EUTROP., VII 21, 4: Hic (Titus) Romae amphiteatrum aedificavit et quinque milia ferarum in dedicatione eius occidit.
4a. SVET., De Vita Ceasarum, Vesp. XI,1: Fecit et nova opera templum Pacis Foro proximum Divique Claudi in Caelio monte coeptum quidem ab Agrippina, sed a Nerone prope funditus desctructum; item amphitheatrum urbe media, ut destinasse comperat Augustum.
4b. SVET., De Vita Ceasarum, Tit., VII,3: Et tamen nemine ante se munificentia minor, amphitheatro dedicato thermisque tuxta celeriter exstructis munus edidit apparatissimum largissimunque; dedit et navale proeilum in veteri naumachia, ibidem et gladiatores atque uno die quinque milia omne genus ferarum.

A good link to a text about the Amphiteatrum is here

Ancient sources is here

But amphitheatrum Caesareum was not exclusive to the Colosseum; Vespasian and Titus, builders of the Colosseum, also constructed an amphitheater of the same name located in Pozzuoli, is the third largest in ancient Rome.

During the 7th century the first sources begin to speak of the Colysaeus. It is probably more related to the statue erected by Nero which remained close to the arena. The venerable Bede had prophesied:

Quandiu stabit coliseus, stabit et Roma;
Quando cadit coliseus, cadet et Roma
Quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.

While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; when falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls the world shall fall.

But this truly interesting discussion shows the importance of going back to the orignal sources and not always trust the research that have been done before. Especially if an established scientist have done something it become the base foundation of knowledge. After a few decades it is cross-referenced and no one checks the orignal source or the translations. Of course we need have a foundation to stand on otherwise it would be impossible but don’t forget to question  the research and your own research as well. Have discussions and question each other and keep pushing the the science further!

  1. It is interesting to see how they try to gain scientific legitimacy by correcting themselves when it come to amphitheaters name. It was neither called the Colosseum, nor the the Flavian Amphiteatre. It was simply known as Amphiteatrum (as close to The Amphitheater as you can come in Latin).

  2. charleyjk4 says:

    It was called the Colosseum because of the colossal statue of Nero nearby.It’s original name was the Flavian Amphitheater because construction started and ended under the flavian dynasty of Vespasian and his two sons,Titus and Domitian(Dominus et Deus).At the opening ceremony of the colosseum,strange and exotic creatures were brought from all corners of the empire.
    Domitian was said to have flooded the colosseum to give semblance to a naval battle.After the advent of Christianity,it fell into disuse and disrepair.

  3. charleyjk;

    Yes, the name is believed to derive from the gigantic statue that stood next to the amphitheater. It was however depicting Sol not Nero after the emperors death, and it was moved to the positions from it’s original place in Neros vestibul. (Suet. Ner. 31.)

    The original name was not the Flavian Amphtheatre, but as stated simply Aphiteatrum. Fredrik already posted several ancient sources showing this and here is another important document: The Forma urbis (the Severian one)

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