Construction of the Colosseum 

Topics: Jerusalem

Standing prominent over its surroundings, the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, is recognizable to the entire world. Its general structure can be seen influencing many modern stadiums; this venue was once host to epic battles as Roman crowds bellowed out chants for the favored opponent. What some do not know is that the Colosseum’s construction was integral to the advancement of construction practices; this structure coincided with the introduction of concrete as well as precast parts.

Emperor Vespasian, the first of the Flavian dynasty, rose to power in 69 AD— a few years later, he commissioned the Colosseum as a way to “make a political gesture [that would] reconcile the Roman citizens” and strengthen his public opinion (Pepe).

The following year Vespasian’s son Titus sacked the city of Jerusalem; although no dollar amount exists for the costs, it is estimated that the riches of Jerusalem paid for the Colosseum.

As an amphitheater, this structure would be considered commercial assembly in modern society.

A well-sized team of skilled Roman architects and engineers under the Empire undertook the process starting in 72 AD. Behind them, in the quarries outside of Rome, and on the delivery paths between, were empiric slaves who made up the majority of the laborers.

Before the Flavians there was Emperor Nero, whose residence, the Domus Aurea, was right where the Colosseum wound up. Nero had an artificial lake in this area resulting in a “preliminary hydraulic assessment of the area” being necessary to “drain the waters that [he] had channeled into the valley” before construction could begin (Como 344).

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After the site was drained, an elliptical concrete ring was formed to start the foundation. Over the foundation itself, the floor of the arena was wooden and covered with sand. In the near future, Titus’s son, Domitian, would add a basement that housed supplies, prisoner cells, and animals for the events.

The superstructure of the Colosseum was “strongly influenced by two of [the Roman Empire’s] greatest” contributions to construction: arches and concrete (Alchin). At this point in time, concrete was relatively new and the Romans were not fully knowledgeable of its’ effectiveness. The walls of the Colosseum were made of concrete and surrounded in a layer of Travertine which acted as veneer as well as support.

These walls, “with a total of 240 piers for each floor”, were connected by various arches at the perimeter (Como 346). The Colosseum saw early utilization of precast materials as “stairs and seats were constructed off-site” and “built to the same size” so that installation was easy as well as the parts being rearrange-able (Alchin). Construction was completed in 81 AD and despite repairs over the years, the Colosseum is still standing today.

The Colosseum was integral to the advancement of construction practices because of the usage of concrete, arches, and precast parts. Over the past two millennia its’ influence has affected a plethora of examples of construction.

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Construction of the Colosseum . (2022, Jun 22). Retrieved from

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