Monday 13 Jul, 2015

1,500 Years Later a Wooden Elevator Lifts and Releases an Animal into the Roman Colosseum

If you’re visiting Rome, chances are the Colosseum is towards the top of your “must-see” list – and for good reason. Experiencing it is like traveling back in time. Standing inside this ancient gladiator stadium, your imagination can’t help but paint a vivid picture of what it could have looked and sounded like thousands of years ago. In your head you see 50,000 roaring Romans mercilessly cheering on men and wild animals as they walk into the arena. With their eyes fixated on the arena floor, they all anxiously await one thing, and one thing only: battle.Roman ColosseumBut there’s more to the Colosseum than meets the eye. Inside the stadium is a large underground system, known as the hypogeum. Back in the day, the hypogeum included 28 elevator systems that would lift animals into the main arena where they would often fight against men. These fights were typically show openers, and would be followed by the famous gladiator matches.

These elevators were responsible for carrying over 100,000 animals – lions, bears, tigers and even elephants – into the Colosseum. Obviously when the stadium opened in 80 A.D., power was non-existent, so the elevators were powered by 200 people, who would manually raise the animals up on to the stadium’s main floor.

The producers of a new documentary “Colosseum: Roman Death Trap” undertook the task of recreating one elevator system, using the exact tools and materials the ancient Romans would have used. After the project was completed, the only thing left to do was to release an animal into the stadium. After a 1,500 year gap, a wolf was lifted and released onto the Colosseum’s floor. Only this time instead of facing battle, he was met with a treat and his trusted trainer.