The Roman Colosseum: A Great Space for a (Completely) Different Kind of Game

Nothing brings an empire together like a good mock naval battle – at least, that’s what the Roman emperor Vespasian always said.  Following the welcome demise of the reign of the Julio-Claudian emperors with the death of Nero and a year of civil war, the military leader Vespasian became the Roman emperor, instituting financial reforms and many construction projects.

Vespasian built the Colosseum, a large amphitheater in the middle of Rome, which was ingeniously constructed from barrel vaults built up from the ground in a ring.  The remainder was made with small stones held together with a type of binder that is like concrete.  The arena held about 50,000 people and the brilliant design enabled those thousands to empty the amphitheater in about three minutes.  Talk about crowd control.

This is the amphitheater where over 9,000 animals were sacrificed during the inaugural games.  This is where Christians were thrown to the lions, mock naval battles were fought and, of course, gladiators clashed to the death.  Vespasian built the Roman Colosseum as a public forum for display of aggressive Roman militarism that was essential to the propaganda of the Roman Empire.