Colosseum: Roman Death Trap | Full Documentary | NOVA | PBS

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1500 years ago, how did the Romans engineer bloody spectacles and reenact sea battles? (Aired February 11, 2015)

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One of the ancient world’s most iconic buildings, the Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Its graceful lines and harmonious proportions concealed a highly efficient design and advanced construction methods that made hundreds of arches out of 100,000 tons of stone. In its elliptical arena, tens of thousands of gladiators, slaves, prisoners, and wild animals met their deaths. Ancient texts report lions and elephants emerging from beneath the floor, as if by magic, to ravage gladiators and people condemned to death. Then, just as quickly, the Colosseum could be flooded with so much water that ships could engage in sea battles to the delight of the crowd. Now, archaeologists and engineers are teaming up to recreate a 25-foot lifting machine and trap door system capable of releasing a wolf into the Colosseum’s arena for the first time in 1,500 years. Do they have what it takes to replicate the innovation and ingenuity of the Romans?

00:00 Introduction
06:40 How Were Animals Released into the Colosseum?
10:20 Why Did the Romans Build the Colosseum?
15:00 Creating a Scale Model of the Underground Lift System
23:10 The Inaugural Games of the Colosseum
27:31 How the Romans Staged Sea Battles in the Colosseum
31:44 Recreating the Underground Lift System in the Colosseum
37:42 How Did Gladiators Survive Battles in the Colosseum?
42:24 Lifting an Animal Into the Colosseum
50:34 Conclusion

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#colosseum #architecture #ancientrome #gladiator #ancienthistory