ANCIENT ROMAN THEATER DISCOVERED BENEATH THE PALAZZO VECCHIO IN FLORENCE
Archaeologists conducting an excavation beneath the Palazzo Vecchio, a 13th century building which serves as the Town Hall in Florence, have discovered the remains of an ancient Roman theater dating back nearly 2,000 years, including a Vomitorium (corridor) used by as many as 15,000 people.
Roman theaters started out as simple, temporary wooden structures, but by the 1st century AD, they were building elaborate stone theaters, complete with backstage area, orchestra pit, and seating for thousands of people.
According to Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA), excavations at the Palazzo Vecchio have revealed the original painted stone pavements along which spectators used to walk from the outer circle of the theater to the orchestra Pit, as well as wall foundations, and 10-meter deep well shafts, providing water and waste disposal for the theater. The remains of the theater cover a vast area of land and even include cells in which wild animals were confined.
Research at the site has revealed that it was in use between the 1st or 2nd century AD until the 5th century, and was initially built for around 7,000 people, but at the height of its popularity could have held as many as 15,000 spectators.
By April Holloway