Modern Coliseums, such as the one in Oakland, take their names from the Roman Coliseum, the most well-known large stadium or arena of ancient times.

Outside the Roman Coliseum

Bust of Vespasian


Construction of the Roman Coliseum was begun under the reign of the Emperor Vespasian beginning in 72 A.D.

The Roman Coliseum is said to be named for the large statue of Nero that stood near the building. Large statues were called "Colossus" in Latin, and "Collossos" in Ancient Greek, which generally meant "colossal."

The Roman Coliseum was used for gladiatorial combat, contests and other sports and amusements for 400 years. Early Christians were pitted against lions in the Coliseum, and at times, the center was filled with water, and battles between people in small boats took place.

Inside the Roman Coliseum

The floor of the Coliseum

The Coliseum had a wooden floor, which has long since rotted away. Below the floor were passages and cells, visible in this close-up. Slaves, caged animals and machinery were in these areas below the "main floor" before and during events.

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