ROME – For 500 years, the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire, where gladiatorial battles, executions and hunting took place. Then it fell apart.
Now, nearly 2,000 years after its construction, the Colosseum is receiving a new high-tech floor. Made of carbon fiber covered with durable wood, it promises to give visitors a gladiator look for Italy’s most popular tourist attraction.
An underground system of tunnels to the Colosseum has now been discovered, a remnant of 19th-century archaeologists who discovered the maze of corridors beneath the arena.
“The floor can be retracted by electric mechanisms,”
The Colosseum, which can accommodate up to 70,000 people when it opens, attracted about 7.6 million visitors in 2019, before the coronavirus struck.
When it was built in 80 AD, the floor was made of wood and covered with sand. It was high-tech for its time, with moving parts and moving sections where gladiators and wildlife would jump on stage through a complex system of elevators.
“The original floor of the Colosseum was extremely innovative,” said Andreas Steiner, editor-in-chief of Archeo, a monthly Italian magazine on archeology and ancient history. “The whole arena was a symbol of the most modern and expensive technology at times. “
This new floor will also be destroyed technologically.
Wood and carbon fiber slats can be tilted 90 degrees to allow light and reveal a view of the tunnels below. Sections of it will be able to return, gliding on runners and more fully exposing combat units that were once used as a kind behind the scenes for deadly shows and major arena events, according to the Ministry of Culture.
The floor also aims to protect the foundations of the arena, which have been exposed to the elements for about 200 years. The new perimeter ventilation devices will help control the temperature and humidity of the underground rooms, and rainwater will be collected for use in public toilets.
The idea for re-laying the Colosseum was first proposed by archaeologist Daniele Manacorda in an article published in Archeo in 2014. The proposal was adopted by the country’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, who called on engineers and architects to present a plan. The tender was recently won by Milan Engineering, an engineering firm that will build the floor at a cost of $ 22 million.
“This is an interesting proposal, but we must not forget that the first floor was not only used for games, but also a scene of violence and cruelty,” Steiner said. “Restoring the floor is a good idea, but I hope they don’t use it to restore gladiatorial battles. This will be a tribute to death and violence. “
The new floor should be completed in 2023 and will allow cultural events to be held again at the Colosseum, according to Francescini.