Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Nicholas. Nicholas Wonders, “How old is the Colosseum?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Nicholas!

Do you enjoy watching football games? What about basketball or hockey? Millions of people watch live sports games every year. It's one of the most popular hobbies out there!

Have you ever WONDERed how long people have gone to sporting events? It's been a popular hobby for a long time. In ancient Rome, watching sports was one of the most common forms of entertainment. Ancient Romans watched their favorite events in a building called the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is the world's largest amphitheater. When it opened in 80 C.E., the Colosseum could hold over 50,000 cheering Romans at one time. To compare, Fenway Park holds fewer than 40,000 people today!

Romans wanted everyone to enjoy the Colosseum. For that reason, it was free to watch games at the amphitheater. The food and drinks were even free. By not charging money, the Romans made sure everyone could watch their favorite events. Imagine having free tickets to the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup Finals!

The Romans held sporting events at the Colosseum, just like we do in modern stadiums. However, the sports they watched differed from those we enjoy today. The most popular events in the Colosseum were the gladiator games. You may have heard of gladiators! They were men trained to fight with swords and other weapons. Romans admired them like we do athletes today. However, being a gladiator meant having a difficult life. While many gladiators won fame and fortune, the games were very dangerous and caused many injuries.

Another type of game Romans watched in the Colosseum was the "wild beast hunt." Ancient Rome had no zoos, so this was the only place the Romans could see animals like lions, elephants, and bears. However, this event wasn't for animal lovers. Most of the animals were hurt during the game by hunters or other animals.

The Romans also watched plays about famous battles at the Colosseum. They watched in awe as officers drove their armies to victories. They cheered when the armies saved Rome from its enemies. Romans even held mock sea battles in the Colosseum.

Wait, sea battles? Was the Colosseum a swimming pool? No, of course not! Romans flooded the amphitheater with water for their sea battles. When the water was deep enough, the battle began. Two ships armed with prisoners floated on the "sea." The men fought each other until one ship won the battle.

Mock sea battles are no longer held in the Colosseum today. Neither are wild beast hunts or gladiator games. In fact, events in the structure are restricted because of its status as one of the New Seven Wonders of the WorldHowever, modern musicians do hold concerts just outside the Colosseum. Would you like to attend an event at the Colosseum? Or would you rather tour the ruins and imagine thousands of Romans cheering in the stands?

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will have you pondering medical mysteries!