Did Rome’s Colosseum Suffered a Post Earthquake Fire in 271 A.D.?


In 217 A.D. Rome’s Colosseum was slightly damaged by a fire. Since Rome is built in a seismic area and there is an earthquake reported during September 217 A.D. ,Rome Univerity  La Sapienza’s Professor Enzo Cartapati has studied the possibility of a fire event due to the seismic event.

Together with Maurizio Cerone, Prof. Cartapati has conducted a structural analysis of Colosseum’s stone columns, in order to understand if actually the fire occurred after the seismic shock.

In 217 a fire, presumably triggered by lightning, caused the upper structures to collapse; the restoration work closed the Colosseum for five years, from 217 to 222.
Another fire caused by lightning was the origin of the repair work ordered by the emperor Decius in 250.
292,000 tons of travertine and piperine from the Albulae quarries near Tivoli, and of volcanic tuff from Preneste were used; 750,000 tons of squared stones, 8,000 tons of marble from the Luni and Carrara quarries.
The arena measured 76 x 46 meters, the height was 57 meters distributed over four floors.
Eighty “vomiters” allowed the rapid outflow of the 45-50,000 spectators that the amphitheater could contain.
Seventy-two stairways led to the seats, all of marble and all numbered: each of them measured exactly fifty-seven centimeters.The presentation of such work, presented during the April 11th 2003 Conference “Integrating Historic Preservation with Security, Fire Protection, Life safety and Building Management Systems”,  is downloadble from this website:


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