Rome’s Colosseum, a technological and architectural wonder when it was constructed almost two thousand years ago, is about to time warp into the 21st century with a modern reconstruction of the arena floor.
The project was conceived by archeologist Daniele Manacorda and proposed to Italy’s Ministry of Culture in 2014. After many years of planning, the ambitious, 18.5-Million-Euro project was awarded to Milan Ingegneria in 2021. The restoration, which is a major technological intervention, is expected to be completed in 2023.
The new floor will give visitors the opportunity to stand in the centre of the arena and experience the majesty of the Colosseum as Gladiators once did (well, without the looming probability of imminent death). Its retractable, louvered panels will enable the viewer to appreciate the labyrinth of the hypogeum while possessing the functionality of quick closure in order to protect the underground from the elements.
The arena floor of the Colosseum was removed in the late 1800s so that archeologists could properly study the hypogeum. In its day, the underground of the arena served as a full-fledged backstage for the games, outfitted with a network of tunnels, holding cells, elevators, and intricate pulley systems that enabled a vast array of exotic animals to come bounding out of nowhere, creating the drama that thrilled Roman spectators for four centuries.
Once the Colosseum floor is reconstructed, the arena will regain an important aspect of its original appearance. In 21st-Century style, the floor will be covered with visitors from across the globe instead of sand, and grisly battles to the death will be replaced with theatrical productions and musical events.
To learn more about the reconstruction project of the Colosseum floor, check out this short video or article in Smithsonian Magazine.
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