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How the Colosseum Was Built—and Why It Was an Architectural Marvel

The Flavian Amphitheater, better known as the Colosseum, stands as one of the most spectacular architectural monuments of the ancient world. Built in the first century A.D., it’s largely remembered as the site of blood-sport entertainment involving gladiators, wild animals and more. But as one of ancient Rome’s best surviving and most iconic structures, it remains an enduring monument to one of the most influential dynasties of the Roman Empire—and a marvel of architecture and engineering.

After Vespasian became Roman Emperor in 69 A.D., his Flavian Dynasty— which included his sons, Titus and Domitian—launched a vast building program to restore Rome, which had been ravaged by fire, plague and civil war. During the Flavian Dynasty’s 27-year reign, it renovated buildings, statues and monuments throughout the city. In 70 A.D., Vespasian ordered the construction of the new amphitheater in the city center, funded with the spoils from the Roman siege of Jerusalem during the First Jewish-Roman War. The Colosseum, dedicated 10 years later, served as a dramatic political symbol of the city’s resurgence.

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