Romans have an old saying that if the Colosseum falls then Rome falls with it and, the saying continues, if Rome falls so too will the rest of the world.
Romans have an old saying that if the Colosseum falls then Rome falls with it and, the saying continues, if Rome falls so too will the rest of the world. But now archaeologists, led by Claudio Moccheggiani, have put Romans' hearts at rest by discovering the reason why the ancient arena has endured the ravages of time. The secret is in the foundations, which it seems used methods anticipating those used in modern skyscrapers.
SYNOPSIS: It took 15 years to build the Colosseum which was inaugurated by the Emperor Titus in 80 AD and it could seat up to 50,000 people. The historic event was celebrated with a festival ???sting 100 days and included naval contests and gladiatorial combats in which 5,000 wild beasts were killed.
It had been thought that the gigantic amphitheatre was supported by the pillars of travertine whose roots were sunk deep into the ground. But the latest discovery by Moccheggiani has found that the Colosseum is built on an elliptical foundation 13 metres (41 feet) thick.
The foundation which has a diameter of 188 metres (621 feet) at its widest part is made up of a cement-like mixture of flint-stone and volcanic ash and it is this that gives the structure its stability. Using the latest drilling techniques and sensors, the Moccheggiani team have shown that the Roman engineers who built the arena foresaw the need for a compact foundation and in essence anticipated the methods used in the laying of platform foundations for modern skyscrapers: a thick base designed to act as a shock absorber and stabiliser.
And so after almost 1,900 years, the secret of this massive amphitheatre is known. A secret that has enabled it to withstand earthquakes, time and invaders; a secret thought to guarantee an almost "eternal life".