While in the arena gladiators fought to the death or fought against wild beasts, in the stands of the Colosseum Roman Spectators gorged themselves on olives, walnuts and cherries, a team of archaeologists has discovered.
Experts have been able to unearth remains of figs, grapes, cherries, blackberries, nuts and other foods that are more than 2,000 years old at the site.
Bones of bears and big cats have also been found that were probably used in the amphitheater hunting games, very popular in Roman times.
The discoveries were made by archaeologists who examined the monument sewersbuilt in the first century of our era.
A selection of fruit seeds, stones, & pits recovered from the drainage system of the Colosseum in #romeremains of the snacks eaten by #Roman Spectators watching the games in the arena up to 1900 years ago #RomanArchaeology pic.twitter.com/qrSSRQUIYB
—Dr Jo Ball (@DrJEBall) July 2, 2022
Relics like these provide a snapshot of the “experience and customs of those who came to this place during the long days dedicated to the shows,” Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, explained to the BBC.
The researchers claim that the bear and lion bones They probably belonged to the animals that were part of the bloody games in the amphitheater, in which beasts were pitted against each other or against gladiators.
The Colosseum, which could hold up to 55,000 spectators, was in use for five centuries, entertaining the Romans with fights, martyrdoms and even naumachiae, naval combats for which the circus arena was filled with water.
It is believed that for its inauguration, in the year 80, Emperor Titus ordered the celebration of games that lasted 100 days and in which more than 5,000 beasts were killed.
Bones of smaller animals, such as dogs, have also been found in the excavation.
The findings are part of a study that began in January 2021, in which nearly 70 meters of drains and sewers have been cleaned under the Colosseum, which remains one of the most visited places in Italy.
Specialized architects and archaeologists used wire-guided robots to navigate the amphitheatre’s complex drainage system, which helped them understand daily life in Rome as well as ancient hydraulic structures, the researchers explained.
The Roman culinary art has reached our days, which the wealthy classes celebrated in sumptuous banquets that lasted all night with very elaborate dishes. In fact, the oldest known cookbook is Roman and was compiled by a certain Apicius.
However, for the Colosseum, viewers opted for simpler snacks, which they could buy from street vendors who set up around the amphitheater, where they offered chickpeas, fried fish, sausages or buns. A lot of wine was also drunk in the stands.
In the excavation they have also discovered old coins, including 50 bronze coins dating from the late Roman period, spanning approximately AD 250-450, and a silver commemorative coin from around AD 170-171, celebrating 10 years of Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ rule.
The Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire and fell into disuse around AD 523, when gladiatorial and hunting shows were banned. Then, its tunnels, holes and galleries were occupied by the inhabitants of Rome, who made it an extension of the city.
In the 14th century, an earthquake destroyed part of the amphitheatre, which ended up becoming a garbage dump and a quarry from which construction materials were extracted. The Renaissance restored value to the building.
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