Amphitheatre of Pompeii

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The Amphitheatre of Pompeii - interior
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii - exterior

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. It is located in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, and was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, that also buried Pompeii itself and the neighbouring town of Herculaneum[1][circular reference]

Design and construction[edit]

Built around 70 BC, the current amphitheatre is the earliest Roman amphitheatre known to have been built of stone; previously, they had been built out of wood.[2]The next Roman amphitheatre known to be built from stone is the Colosseum in Rome, which postdates it by over a century. Contemporarily, it was known as a spectacula rather than an amphitheatrum, since the latter term was not yet in use at the time. It was built with the private funds of Gaius Quinctius Valgus and Marcus Porcius (a relative of Julius Caesar's rival).

The amphitheatre's design is seen by some modern crowd control specialists as near-optimal. Its washroom, located in the neighboring palaestra has also been cited as an inspiration for better bathroom design in modern stadiums.

The Amphitheater measures 135m long and 104m wide. The arena (pit) is measured to be 6m below ground level. The only internal feature of the Amphitheater at Pompeii was a standard corridor that cut into the base of cavea. This corridor ran the circumference of the amphitheater and is what's used to access the arena.[3]

Gladiatorial contests[edit]

"The Amphitheatre at Pompeii, a fresco depicting the riot between the Nucerians and the Pompeians", Casa della Rissa nell'Anfiteatro, Pompeii

The famed preservation of Pompeii and its amphitheatre have given insights into the gladiatorial culture of Rome. Around 59 AD, a deadly brawl occurred between Pompeiians and residents of Nuceria during games in the amphitheatre, resulting in a 10-year ban on such events.[4]

Modern uses[edit]

Aside from being a historical landmark and an object of archaeological study, the amphitheatre has been used for concerts and other public events in modern times. Over a 4-day period in October 1971, Pink Floyd made a concert film at the amphitheatre, titled Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. David Gilmour, the band's guitarist, returned to perform two concerts at the amphitheatre in July 2016 as part of his Rattle That Lock Tour.

Pink Floyd live in Pompeii

In September 1991, Frank Sinatra was granted special permission by the site's chief archaeologist to perform in the amphitheatre.[5]

Gilmour's 2016 concerts saw the first public performances in the amphitheatre since 79 A.D.[6] and can be seen on the live album/video Live at Pompeii.

In 2018, the venue hosted a live performance to an audience by progressive rock group King Crimson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pompeii".
  2. ^ "Architecture at Pompeii".
  3. ^ "Pompeii's Amphiteatre".
  4. ^ Tacitus (c. 100). "ch. 1". Annals, Book 14.
  5. ^ "OL' BLUE EYES TO PLAY THE RUINS OF POMPEII". Deseret News. Aug 1, 1991. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  6. ^ Barton, Laura (2016-07-10). "David Gilmour review – Pompeii rocks again". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2017-11-28.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′05″N 14°29′42″E / 40.751264°N 14.494970°E / 40.751264; 14.494970 (Pompeii)