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The Colosseum, according to the Enc. Brittanica: originally called Flavian Amphitheatre giant amphitheatre built in Rome under the Flavian emperors. Construction of the Colosseum was begun sometime between AD 70 and 72 during the reign of Vespasian; the structure was officially dedicated in AD 80 by Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of games. Later, in AD 82, Domitian completed the work by adding the uppermost story. Unlike earlier amphitheatres, which were nearly all dug into convenient hillsides for extra support, the Colosseum is a freestanding structure of stone and concrete, measuring 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 metres) overall and seating some 50,000 spectators. It was the scene of thousands of hand-to-hand combats between gladiators, of contests between men and animals, and of many larger combats, including mock naval engagements. However, it is uncertain whether the arena was the site of the martyrdom of early Christians.
The Colosseum was damaged by lightning and earthquakes in medieval times and, even more severely, by vandalism; all the marble seats and decorative materials have disappeared. A restoration project was undertaken in the 1990s, and in 2000 the Colosseum staged a series of plays to an audience of some 700 people. It was the first time in almost 1,500 years that live performances had been held in the amphitheatre.
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