When people think of Roman amphitheatres, they tend to think of the Colosseum which is arguably the most well-known and in one of the best conditions. Roman amphitheatres do exist beyond Italy though, and there are approximately 230 scattered across the Roman Empire, through France, Greece, northern Africa and England.
Amphitheatres were large outdoor entertainment venues built by Ancient Romans to showcase gladiator contests. They were usually built as open air, oval shaped stadiums with ascending seating for ease of viewing. Amphitheatres were originally made of wood and built temporarily in the centre of town, before the invention of concrete and more permanent structures.
Archaeology Travel has compiled a list of Roman Amphitheatres, as well as put together a map of where they all are. You can check that out here.
One of the earliest stone amphitheatres in the world, and also one of the most well-researched, is the amphitheatre of Pompeii; part of the UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata inscription.
The amphitheatre was built in 70 B.C.E. on the outskirts of Pompeii so that it could facilitate the movement of the audience members at maximum capacity of 20,000 people.
A violent brawl broke out in 59 C.E. between Pompeii and neighbouring Nocera, due to the loud cheering from the amphitheatre. This brawl led to a 10-year ban on the use of the amphitheatre which lasted only 3 years.
David Gilmour performed the first public shows at the Amphitheatre of Pomepii in 2016, since the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 C.E.
What’s your favourite Roman Amphitheatre?