The 3 Reasons Why The Colosseum Of Rome Is Half Missing

Further ReadingThe Colossus of Nero: 3 Amazing Facts

If you visit Rome today you might notice that their biggest landmark, the Colosseum, is half missing or broken. Initially the Roman Colosseum had a perfectly oval shape with several levels of stands. Today this is not the case and here’s why that is.

There are 3 reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is missing half of its south side. First, during the 3rd century the Colosseum of Rome would experience a massive fire from a lighting strike which weakened the structure. Second, over the course of the middle ages people would begin to remove the iron clamps which held the stones together. Third, in 1359 an earthquake caused the entire outer south end to collapse.

Generally speaking it was the 1359 earthquake that caused the Colosseum of Rome to lose its outer south end. However, it is important to note that there was a series of disasters that led up to the major collapse.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is Half Missing.

During The 3rd Century The Colosseum Of Rome Would Experience A Massive Fire From A Lighting Strike

One of the main reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing is because during the 3rd century a lighting strike would hit the top of the Colosseum.

This lighting strike in 217 AD would light the entire upper half of the Roman Colosseum on fire. The top most layer of the Colosseum consisted of old wooden seating areas along with an awning which could be extended to protect the audience from the sun.

The Ancient Roman historian Cassius Dio writes that the Colosseum was struck by a lighting bolt and the entire theater was consumed by flames. (25) After the fire had subsided the entire theater was in ruins.

Historians have theorized that this fire drastically affected the structural integrity of the Colosseum. Only recently have historians discovered that much of the ground structure was altered over several decades to repair the damage from this fire.

The Colosseum would not be fully repaired until 320 AD. However by this time gladiatorial fights were starting to become a relic of the past. By 399 AD most of the Roman Empire saw a banning of gladiatorial fights outside special circumstances.

Because of the fire the Colosseum would begin to experience a series of structural issues. A minor earthquake in 443 AD would damage the structure but not result in a collapse of the southern side. However, now it was only a matter of time.

As such one of the main reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing is because of a lighting strike in 217 AD which started a massive fire in the Colosseum.

Over The Course Of The Middle Ages People Would Begin To Remove The Iron Clamps Which Held The Stones Together

One of the main reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing is because during the middle ages people began to dismantle the structure for its resources.

One of the main resources that held the ancient Roman Colosseum together was a bunch of iron clamps which made sure the stones did not shift. The removal of these clamps significantly weakened the Colosseum.

On top of this much of the Colosseum had either been repurposed or fallen into disuse. From the 6th century up to around the 12th the Colosseum would be used for everything from a cemetery to a castle.

We even have accounts of people moving into the Colosseum’s various empty spaces to either set up a shop or to live in. This would have further weakened the structure.

On top of this grass and other vegetation started growing over the former stadium. This vegetation would slowly begin to degrade the structural integrity of the Colosseum which now was primed for a major catastrophe to destroy it.

However, out of everything done before the year 1349 it was the removal of the Iron clamps that held the stones together which remains one of the main reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing.

In 1359 A Large Earthquake Caused The Now Weakened Colosseum’s South End To Collapse

The main reason why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing is because of a large earthquake that struck Rome in 1349.

Because the Colosseum was already in bad shape by this point the earthquake caused the entire outer side of the south end of the colosseum to collapse. Roman’s didn’t know it but they had built half of the Colosseum on an unstable mixture of rock and sand.

The large earthquake caused this mixture to shift which ended up causing half of the Colosseum to be destroyed. The people of Rome then used the rubble to build several public buildings around Rome.

It took several centuries for the colosseum to degreed to the point of collapse. Even though it had survived fires, looters, and minor earthquakes in 1349 a large earthquake caused the south side to break away.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the 3 reasons why the Colosseum of Rome is half missing.

Many people don’t know this but the Colosseum of Rome is called the Colosseum because there used to be a 103-122 Ft. tall bronze statue of Nero/Apollo outside of it. Over several centuries the people of Rome just started calling the Flavian Amphitheater the Colosseum because it was near the colossus of Nero.

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Sincerely,

Nick