The ancient Roman Colosseum is once again going to have a floor thanks to a new, hi-tech project announced by Italy’s culture ministry.
“It is an extraordinary project,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, detailing the plans to create a flexible floor to give tourists a clearer idea of how the arena would have looked when gladiators fought to the death there.
“You will be able to walk on it and go to the centre of the Colosseum, seeing it in the same way as visitors used to up to the end of the 19th century,” Mr Franceschini said.
The last floor was removed by archaeologists* to be better able to see the maze of rooms and corridors that lay below the arena. It was never fully replaced.
Italian engineers Milan Ingegneria won the almost $29 million contract to design the new flooring and has committed to complete the project by 2023.
The wooden platform will be made up of hundreds of slats* that can be rotated to bring natural light into the underground chambers that once used to house the gladiators and animals before their deadly combat*. The movable floor will be able to be quickly put in place to protect the lower chambers from rain but also allow them to be aired out.
The floor will also be able to be used as a stage for cultural events that are respectful of the Colosseum as a symbol of Italy, Mr Franceschini said.
The project is reversible, meaning it can be removed if plans for the Colosseum change in the future.
The UNESCO* World Heritage-listed Colosseum is Italy’s most popular tourist attraction, drawing about 7.6 million visitors in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted travel worldwide. It reopened to the public last week after a 41-day closure because of pandemic restrictions. Officials have set up a one-way itinerary* as part of safety measures, and visitors are limited to 1260 a day, compared with as many as 25,000 a day in 2019.
Built 2000 years ago, the stone arena was the biggest amphitheatre* in the Roman empire. It used to have up to 70,000 seats and hosted gladiator fights, executions and animal hunts. It could also be filled with water to re-enact* sea battles.
- archaeologists: experts who study old things made by humans
- slats: a thin, narrow piece of wood or other material
- combat: fight
- UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, part of the UN
- itinerary: schedule
- amphitheatre: open-air venue used for sports or performances
- executions: killing someone because they have been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to death
- re-enact: act out a past event
- In which country is the Colosseum?
- What was the Colosseum originally used for?
- How many people visit the Colosseum each year, before the pandemic?
- What does UNESCO stand for?
- How old is the Colosseum?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Colosseum KWL Chart
Fill out the below KWL Chart (What you Know, What you would like to know and what you learned) on the Colosseum in Rome.
What sort of culturally significant events might be able to be staged at the Colosseum in the future?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History
How would the significant drop in visitor numbers since the coronavirus pandemic affect the body that manages and operates the Colosseum as a tourist attraction?
Do you think it will remain of interest to visitors worldwide?
Would you like to visit the Colosseum in Rome? Why or why not?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, History
Grammar and VCOP
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?