The Colosseum in Rome will kick off a blockbuster, $22.5 million addition next year: A historically accurate recreation of the ancient amphitheater’s floor, complete with traps, pitfalls, and underground elevators similar to the ones originally used to raise dangerous animals into the arena.
If you’re an Italian engineer the news is even better as the federal government is still taking proposals, due February 1, on ways to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site to as it appeared 2,000 years ago.
The Colosseum originally opened in 80 A.D. and could sit up to 35,000 jeering Romans. The amphitheater’s staging was an engineering marvel when it debuted, and regularly staged mock army battles with hundreds of participants and dynamic traps, naval warfare when the arena was sealed and flooded, and other exciting events intended to distract the populace from political malfeasance.
Of course, any firm looking to restore the Colosseum will need to be preservation-minded in its focus, not planning for chariot races or circus events. The floor needs to be able to quickly close to protect the historic areas and mechanical equipment below from rain.
“It will be a major technological intervention that will offer visitors the opportunity to, not only see the underground rooms… but also appreciate the beauty of the Colosseum while standing in the centre of the arena,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told the BBC.
While conscripted prisoners won’t fight each other (or bears and lions) to the death on the new floor, it will be used to stage “high culture, meaning concerts or theater,” Colosseum director Alfonsina Russo told the Times.
The new floor is expected to be installed by 2023.