Once the source of live sports is, Rome’s Colosseum may soon reign again as the world’s most modern stage.
After 2,000 years of destruction, Italian officials have launched an initiative to find an architect with the skill and vision to recreate the floor of the 35,000-seat arena, the first of which eroded more than a millennium ago after the Roman fall of Empire in the 5th century.
“We want to give an idea of what it was like and we’re looking for suggestions from around the world,” Colosseum Director Alfonsina Russo told the Times.
Italy will subsidize the project with a grant of 10 million euros (approximately 12 million dollars) with a requirement that the floor mimics some of the elements of the original scene, while it can be quickly withdrawn in case of adverse weather. Proposals are expected by February 1 with hopes of being completed by 2022 or 2023.
Built in 80 AD. The Colosseum attracted tens of thousands of Romans to see gladiators placed against humans and animals, including lions and tigers, in battles that lasted until the artist’s death in the ring. The stadium floor was also known to be flooded with water, creating a giant tank where artists, usually prisoners, would recreate epic naval battles.
The theatre’s advanced architecture preceded contemporary stage images. Back then, opponents, including apex predators, could be hoisted to the stage via hidden portals in the floor. A skeleton of the once detailed stage system, including a series of tunnels, cages and trap doors, can still be seen today.
In the end, Italian conservation experts hope the scene will once again be used for decidedly less cruel purposes. Added Russo, “The arena will be used for high culture, meaning concerts or theater, but no gladiator exhibits.”