Colosseum - Ancient Rome Live (AIRC)

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Darius Arya
by American Institute for Roman Culture
published on 27 January 2020

The Colosseum (the Flavian amphitheater) is the largest amphitheater the Romans ever constructed, with a circumference of 545 m, height of 50 m, 189m long and 156 wide. The exterior wall of travertine stone has been estimated to 100,000 tons of travertine blocks. It was known as the Flavian Amphitheater in antiquity and first cited as “Colosseum” by the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century CE, in possible reference to the lost Colossus that was located next to it in the Hadrianic era.

The structure was built by Vespasian with funds from his successful war in Judaea, as per the dedicatory inscription, on the site of the stagnum of Nero’s Golden House that once extended from the Palatine to the Esquiline. The project began in 70 CE and was completed and inaugurated by Titus in 80 CE (as per Martial’s De Spectaculis) for approximately 50,000 spectators. A massive fire damaged and put the Colosseum out of commission in 217 CE for a number of years. (Cassius Dio 79.25).

The Colosseum was in use for gladiatorial games as the principal activity until AD 434. Animal games continued until 523. All the while, continual restorations took place to repair damage after earthquakes from the 3C- 6C AD.

Find out more about the Colosseum at

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APA Style

Culture, A. I. f. R. (2020, January 27). Colosseum - Ancient Rome Live (AIRC). World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Culture, American Institute for Roman. "Colosseum - Ancient Rome Live (AIRC)." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 27, 2020.

MLA Style

Culture, American Institute for Roman. "Colosseum - Ancient Rome Live (AIRC)." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 27 Jan 2020. Web. 05 Feb 2023.