Saturday, February 24, 2007


Archaeologists have discovered that what had been thought to be a relatively small, down-market amphitheatre in Britain was in fact a top-of-the-range, though admittedly more intimate, version of Rome's famous gladiatorial arena.The amphitheatre, built about AD100, was completely rebuilt about 100 years later to resemble a scaled-down version of Rome's Colosseum.

Chester's Colosseum was re-built possibly on the orders of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, who was in Britain at the time.

Although it was much smaller, its outer wall appears to have had an arcade of 80 arches, giving it a superficially similar appearance to the one in Rome. If the archaeologists' calculations are correct, Rome and Chester were the only places in the Roman world to have amphitheatres with that number of arches.

Evidence suggests that the gladitorial contest audience gorged on salmon, oysters, hazelnuts, venison, lamb, pork, beef and chicken. Gruesome evidence shows that the "entertainers" did not have such a good time. The archaeologists - led by Dr Tony Wilmott of English Heritage and Dan Garner of Chester Archaeology - have not only found broken daggers and bits of shattered armour, but also fragments of body parts. In the centre of the arena, a large stone block was found with the remains of an iron tethering ring set in it. It is likely that victims were tied to it while trying to protect themselves against wild animals.

Traveling through England? Check it out.


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