A new arena floor for the Colosseum

Publish Time:2020-12-29 09:52:21Source:Travel Daily News

【Introduction】:We will be not only able to imagine the Arena of the Colosseum, but to see it in its functionality according to the announcement of the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini.

It will no longer be the monument that every tourist knows, but much more. We will be not only able to imagine the Arena of the Colosseum, but to see it in its functionality according to the announcement of the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini.

The theoretical start of the work, with funding of 18.5 million euros, is expected within the first months of 2021. By the end of spring 2021 the executive project should be completed, in early summer it will be chosen the company for the works and by the end of the year the construction could be completed, as well as the restoration work currently in progress in the underground, which also aims to be finished in 2021. Regarding the tours, hoping that the Covid drama will soon be resolved, there is no reason to be worried: even during the works, the Director assures that "the Colosseum will always be open to the public".

We talk about this astonishing innovation with the Cultural Association Rome Guides, organizing many Guided Tours of the Colosseum : our guest will be Martina Sorrenti, one of the Tour Guide of the Association.

“Today the Colosseum is the main touristic attraction of Rome, but once it was a gigantic amphitheater, equipped with the most advanced technologies of the time, with hoists and complex stage machines to produce the most exciting shows, with hunts and fights. It was commissioned by the Gens Flavia, and was inaugurated in 80 AD after being built in just eight years, where Nero had commissioned a huge artificial lake as a decoration for his Domus Aurea” Martina explains, adding that the Colosseum had its fulcrum precisely on the wooden arena, a stage that in ancient times measured 76 x 44 meters and was covered with sand.

Extraordinary instrument used by the Emperors to gain popular consensus, over the centuries the Colosseum has been modified and improved several times, until it was transformed into a sort of "show machine", incredibly advanced for its time, with dozens of lifts (even 60 in the 3rd Century A.D.) able to bring a lot of ferocious beasts on the stage at the same time.

“Perhaps, in the mind of the first architects, the space of the arena was designed to be flooded in order to allow the organization of the Naumachie, shows similar to historical naval battles on a smaller scale, as narrated by the historian Martial. The Emperor Domitian, however, understood that the space of the Flavian Amphitheater was unsuitable for this kind of show, and preferred to build a complex underground system from which, thanks to various machines, scenery and beasts were made to rise on the floor of the arena”, Martina clarifies. The undergrounds were organized in fifteen corridors, eight of which ran parallel to a central gallery and housed the equipment necessary for the games, weapons and cages for the animals. Hoists operated by winches were used to make gladiators, animals and scenic machines appear in the center of the arena, through trapdoors and inclined planes. A technology that largely needed human labor, if you think that at the time of Domitian to move simultaneously the 28 "elevators" needed 224 slaves working at the same time.

The question that naturally arises is: how will it be possible to rebuild the arena and at the same time allow the vision of the underground spaces?

Martina gives us her answer, mixed with great hopes and a pinch of concern. “This is the real challenge. The reconstruction of the arena could give the Colosseum a new spectacular potential, offering visitors the chance to better understand the monument and its mechanisms. In addition to this, the Colosseum could be used to host cultural events of the highest level. The fear is that, apart from the proverbial bureaucratic slowness of the Italian Government, this evocative reconstruction could lead to further overcrowding of the Colosseum, which already in past years has been forced to limit the number of visitors simultaneously present in the structure for security reasons”.

About the chance for the tourists to admire both the arena and the underground of the Colosseum, according to the words of the Director of the monument, the idea will be to build a mobile, high-performance structure that would allow the arena to be opened during the day for a dialogue between what is visible and the underlying mechanisms.

The project will have to be designed in such a way as to offer at the same time the perception of the arena floor on which the shows took place and the vision of the complex system of structures and mechanisms underneath. The new arena will therefore have to be conceived as a unitary plan, with high technological content, consisting of mechanized opening and closing devices, allowing visitors to understand the synergy and close relationship with the underground areas of the Flavian Amphitheater; in addition to it, it will have to be able to be activated quickly and several times during the same day, also to protect the archaeological structures from atmospheric precipitation.

Our hope is that tourists can return as soon as possible to admire the majesty of the Colosseum, with its new arena and hopefully accompanied by Martina of Rome Guides.

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