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Colosseum underground. Source:  Lukasz Janyst / Adobe Stock.

Beneath the Arena: A Journey Through the Colosseum’s Subterranean World (Video)


In 83 AD, Emperor Domitian ordered a major renovation of the Colosseum in Rome to create a hypogeum, a vast labyrinth beneath the arena floor. With the help of skilled master builder Haterius and his team, the hypogeum's sophisticated engineering enabled animals, gladiators, and scenery to appear before the spectators through special effects. The pressure was on Haterius to pull off the complex machinery to dazzle the crowd, and he succeeded, creating one of the wonders of the ancient world.

The hypogeum added another layer of visual complexity to the Colosseum, making it the greatest spectacle ever witnessed. The Colosseum's enduring emblem of the emperor's power and Rome's might has become a symbol of the Roman Empire at its greatest, immortalized by the poet Marshall as a wonder to behold, where unexpected things can pop up from the stadium floor at any moment, making it way beyond the experience of any normal person.

Top image: Colosseum underground. Source:  Lukasz Janyst / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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