A team of Italian archaeologists has uncovered the ruins of an oval structure that, according to them, could have been the foundations of an important Roman amphitheater. Discovered in the town of Volterra in Tuscany, the ancient oval-shaped arena is similar in design to the much larger Colosseum, situated in the heart of Rome. The researchers believe that the structure was likely built sometime during the 1st century AD.
The newly-discovered colosseum is only one of 230 Roman amphitheaters found across what was once the Roman Empire. These structures were used primarily for events like gladiator combats, public executions and animal fights. While only a small part of it has actually been unearthed, the researchers estimate that the original structure measured around 262 feet by 196 feet in area. Speaking about the find, Elena Sorge, an archaeologist at the Tuscan Superintendency and the leader of the excavation, said:
This amphitheater was quite large. Our survey dig revealed three orders of seats that could accommodate about 10,000 people. They were entertained by gladiators fights and wild beast baiting.
In comparison, however, the Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, could accommodate as many as 50,000 spectators. The arena’s location in Volterra is also significant, especially in light of the fact that this ancient city was once a powerful Etruscan center. Later in the 1st century BC, it came under the Roman rule and eventually became an important Roman center during the reign of emperor Augustus. The town is home to another spectacular monument dating back to the Augustan Age: a stone structure which is believed to be one of the most well-preserved Roman theaters in all of Italy. Found just beyond the Porta Fiorentina, it lies only a mile away from the newly-unearthed amphitheater.
Funded by Volterra’s Cassa di Risparmio bank, the project involves the use of advanced, non-invasive technologies, such as ground-penetrating radar and digital scanning. Based on their observations, the archaeologists have concluded that a major part of the amphitheater lies at a depth of nearly 20 to around 32 feet into the ground. Constructed much the same way as the nearby Roman Theater, the arena was built from stone, and then decorated using blocks of panchino, a yellowish-grey stone found primarily in Volterra.
So far, the archaeologists have uncovered a huge stone sculpture and the arched entrance to a covered corridor or crytoporticus, which likely housed the gladiators before they went on to fight. Sorge added:
It’s puzzling that no historical account records the existence of such an imposing amphitheater. Possibly, it was abandoned at a certain time and gradually covered by vegetation.
Via: Discovery News