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Roman era graffiti found on Colosseum

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Krystal Coenen
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« on: January 13, 2013, 04:54:39 pm »

Roman era graffiti found on Colosseum

Graffiti dating from the Roman era has been found scrawled on the walls of the Colosseum during restoration work.
Graffiti dating from the Roman era has been found scrawled on the walls of the Colosseum during restoration work.
Rome's Coliseum  Photo: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images
Nick Squires

By Nick Squires, Rome

1:59PM GMT 10 Jan 2013

Restorers also discovered fragments of brightly coloured frescoes, suggesting that the ancient monument was gaudily decorated when it hosted gladiatorial fights and wild animal hunts under the emperors.

The fragments in ochre, red, blue and green are in stark contrast to the monochrome grey and white of the travertine marble that covers the facade of the amphitheatre today.

The graffiti includes hard-to-decipher words and symbols as well as two large phalluses possibly an erotic representation, or perhaps just lewd scribbling.

The new discoveries were made on the third and highest level of the Colosseum, which is closed to the public.

They are spread out over a 200ft-long section of a covered tunnel which would have funnelled spectators to their seats high above the arena.
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The coloured frescoes were "an extraordinary discovery", said Rossella Rea, who is in charge of the landmark in the centre of Rome.

"We weren't expecting to find them. There is still a great deal to be studied and there will almost certainly be other surprises."

The frescoes would have been "rich and elaborate" in colour and detail, said Ida Simonelli, the head of the restoration team.

A 22 million restoration of the Colosseum, to be funded by Diego Della Valle, the multi-millionaire founder of the Tod's shoe empire, is scheduled to begin within weeks.

It will be the most comprehensive restoration effort in more than 70 years and is expected to take two years.

The project, which will entail removing decades of grime from the facade of the Colosseum, will take place in phases so that the amphitheatre can remain open to visitors.

The privately-funded work, which has been delayed by months of bureaucracy, is being seen as a model for the sponsoring of other ancient sites in Italy, including Pompeii.
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