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History - Roman Colosseum

Bloodbath at the Roman Colosseum

In 72 AD, Roman Emperor Vespasiano began building the most spectacular colosseum. Originally named The Amphitheatrum Flavium, it was over 160 ft high with eighty entrances and could seat more than 50,000 spectators. When it was completed in 80 AD, the opening was celebrated with 100 days of games in which thousands of animals and gladiators were killed. Gladiators were professional fighters or people who were captured to fight. They entertained the public by engaging in mortal combat. During these "entertaining" fights, as many as 10,000 people were killed. Fighters were slaves, prisoners or even volunteers.

The Roman Colosseum - Chillin' On the Human Sacrifice Trip

Gladiatorial battles stopped in 404 AD, but animals such as lions, elephants, snakes and panthers continued to be slaughtered in the name of sport until the 6th Century. The stage was set for mock naval battles by removing the heavy wooden flooring and flooding the lower cells where prisoner and animals were usually kept. These battles were eventually moved to another site when gladiator fights became more popular. Trained archers on a catwalk above the crowd would shoot resistant participants and any angry animals that got out of hand. During the middle ages, stones from the Colosseum were removed for new buildings. Today the Colosseum is only ruins, but it is one of Rome's biggest tourist attractions.

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