While it’s served a number of purposes in its lifetime, excavation and various research have been conducted at the Roman Colosseum since at least the early 1800s. Some years back, scientists even confirmed how the ancient elevators with their pulley systems were able to lift great numbers of gladiators to the arena above or scores of wild animals to thrill the eager crowds. This penchant for blood sports kept the traditions of the colosseum alive and well for close to 500 years.
While construction of the colosseum began sometime around 70–72 AD by the emperor Vespasian, the three-story structure wouldn’t be completed for approximately 10 years. The inaugural games were held in 80 or 81 AD with Roman historian and senator Dio Cassius recounting that more than 9,000 wild animals were killed during the inaugural games of the amphitheater.
This horrifying figure likely included lions, bears, leopards, and for some bizarre reason, possibly dachshunds. Wait, say what?!?!
According to a piece done by Reuters, in the sewers deep beneath Rome’s Colosseum, archaeologists have discovered the remains of dachshunds and other mammals. The discovery comes as part of a new project that looked to further explore the sewage system beneath the many tunnels that lay below the massive structure.
Archaeological Park of the Colosseum
While it’s well-known that exotic animals like lions, leopards, elephants, ostriches, hyenas, hippos, and other wildlife were imported from Africa and beyond for entertainment purposes, no one is quite sure how or where wiener dogs fit in. Were they kept as pets like companion animals or more likely working dogs to keep rat populations down?
This most recent round of excavation began in January 2021, and it’s involved combing through about 230 feet of drains and sewers. “The investigation involved the southern manifold, blocked and out of use more or less since 523 CE, when the Colosseum stopped being an amphitheater and then became a sort of condominium, fortress, hospital, and even a spinning mill,” noted the project leader, Martina Almonte.
Besides a large assortment of animal bones, a silver coin dating to around 171 CE was discovered which commemorated 10 years of rule by the philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius between 161 to 180 CE.
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