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Colosseum: Roman Death Trap

See how three magnificent ancient structures were engineered in this three-part series.

Runtime: 53:10Topic: Ancient WorldsAncient WorldsNova

(This program is no longer available for online streaming.) One of the ancient world's most iconic buildings, the Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Its graceful lines and harmonious proportions concealed a highly efficient design and advanced construction methods that made hundreds of arches out of 100,000 tons of stone. In its elliptical arena, tens of thousands of gladiators, slaves, prisoners, and wild animals met their deaths. Ancient texts report lions and elephants emerging from beneath the floor, as if by magic, to ravage gladiators and people condemned to death. Then, just as quickly, the Colosseum could be flooded with so much water that ships could engage in sea battles to the delight of the crowd. Now, archaeologists and engineers are teaming up to recreate a 25-foot lifting machine and trap door system capable of releasing a wolf into the Colosseum's arena for the first time in 1,500 years. Do they have what it takes to replicate the innovation and ingenuity of the Romans?

Umberto Baruffaldi, Heinz Beste, Flavia Campanelli, Giovanni Cirillo, Tulio Clementini, Carmelo G. Malacrino, Fabian Kanz, Adriano Morabito, Rosella Rea, Giovanni Squillacioti, Katherine Welch, Mark Wilson Jones

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