Rome’s Colosseum a Condominium in Medieval Times

Colosseum_in_Rome,_ItalyForget gory shows and gladiatorial combat. In the late Middle Ages, Rome’s Colosseum was a huge condominium, says the latest archaeological investigation into Rome’s most iconic monument.

Archaeologists from Roma Tre University and students from the American University of Rome unearthed evidence showing that ordinary Romans lived within the Colosseum from the ninth century until at least 1349, when the building was seriously damaged by an earthquake.

During a three-week excavation beneath some of the arched entrances that lead into the arena, the archaeologists discovered terracotta sewage pipes, potsherds and the foundations of a 12th-century wall that once enclosed one of the properties.

“This excavation has allowed us to identify an entire housing lot from the late medieval period,” Rossella Rea, the director of the Colosseum, said.

The unusual medieval condo also included stables and workshops. Square feet inside the Colosseum were rented out as areas of housing by friars of the nearby Santa Maria Nova convent, who had taken control of the monument.

All houses and workshops opened onto the central arena where gladiators once fought.

“Indeed, that area was used as a common space,” Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, professor of medieval archaeology at Roma Tre University and the director of the dig, said.

Photo: Diliff/Wikimedia Commons

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