Roman Colosseum
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Location Rome, Italy   map
Date 70 to 82   timeline
Building Type amphitheater
 Construction System bearing masonry, cut stone
Climate mediterranean
Context urban
Style Ancient Roman, Classical, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian engaged columns, Corinthian pilasters
Notes Also spelled "Coliseum". tiers of arches and half-columns of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders.
Images

 


Photo, exterior overview

Photo, closer exterior overview

Photo, arches and vaulting, looking circumferentially
Drawings

 


Drawing

Drawing

Detail Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

3D Model
3D Massing Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

3D Spatial Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

Model Viewing Instructions
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Discussion Roman Colosseum Commentary

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater was begun by Vespasian, inaugurated by Titus in 80 A.D. and completed by Domitian. Located on marshy land between the Esquiline and Caelian Hills, it was the first permanent amphitheater to be built in Rome. Its monumental size and grandeur as well as its practical and efficient organization for producing spectacles and controlling the large crowds make it one of the great architectural monuments achieved by the ancient Romans.

The amphitheater is a vast ellipse with tiers of seating for 50,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena. Below the wooden arena floor, there was a complex set of rooms and passageways for wild beasts and other provisions for staging the spectacles. Eighty walls radiate from the arena and support vaults for passageways, stairways and the tiers of seats. At the outer edge circumferential arcades link each level and the stairways between levels.

The three tiers of arcades are faced by three-quarter columns and entablatures, Doric in the first story, Ionic in the second, and Corinthian in the third. Above them is an attic story with Corinthian pilasters and small square window openings in alternate bays. At the top brackets and sockets carry the masts from which the velarium, a canopy for shade, was suspended.

The construction utilized a careful combination of types: concrete for the foundations, travertine for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, and brick-faced concrete used for the upper levels and for most of the vaults.

— JY

Details

The Colosseum was designed to hold 50,000 spectators, and it had approximately eighty entrances so crowds could arrive and leave easily and quickly.

The plan is a vast ellipse, measuring externally 188 m x 156 m (615 ft x 510 ft), with the base of the building covering about 6 acres. Vaults span between eighty radial walls to support tiers of seating and for passageways and stairs.

The facade of three tiers of arches and an attic story is about 48.5 m (158 ft) tall — roughly equivalent to a 12-15 story building.

Resources
Sources on Roman Colosseum

Robert Adam. Classical Architecture. London: Penguin Books, 1990. ISBN 0-670-82613-8. NA260.A26 1990. elevation drawing of three bays, fig d, p129. Derek Brentnall. bottom

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. half-plan and section drawings, p33.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. diagram, p173. — Updated edition available at Amazon.com

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1537.020. PCD.2260.1012.1537.021. PCD.2260.1012.1537.022.

Great Cities of the Ancient World : Rome & Pompeii. 1993. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6302946395. — Video - Available at Amazon.com

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

David Macaulay. Roman City. PBS Home Video, 1994. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN B00000FAHH. — Video - Available at Amazon.com

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Paris: Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. plan drawing in quarters at various levels, p82. no image credit.

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, August 1993. PCD.3189.1011.1916.050. PCD.3189.1011.1916.051.

Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986. plan, section, photos, p125. — Available at Amazon.com

Doreen Yarwood. The Architecture of Europe. New York: Hastings House, 1974. ISBN 0-8038-0364-8. LC 73-11105. NA950.Y37. detail drawing in elevation of doric order, f91, p42.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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Web Resources
Links on Roman Colosseum

The Colosseum.netAn extensive site of Colosseum information, in English and Italian

Roman Colosseum at ArchiplanetFind, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

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