The Colosseum was completed in 2000 CE by famous architects Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott at the behest of emo-mode Joaquin Phoenix. Mel Gibson was holding down a Scottish fort in the name of freedom for a solid five years prior and Anakin Skywalker’s first outing was disappointing and couldn’t dethrone him. So work began on a new building for people to not be entertained in.
Construction was briefly halted in 1998 when Matthew Broderick failed to stop a giant kaiju from taking a bite out of the upper floors (also maiming famed fresco artists P Diddy and Jimmy Page in the process). A gigantic bronze statue of Neo, God of the Internet, was commissioned and erected by acclaimed sculptor Benicio del Toro near the entrance. Marketing and promotional materials were expertly fielded by notorious hard-ass Erin Brockovich. The Colosseum became an instant classic winning the hearts and eating the brains of many the world over.
We join a large line of tourists near the base, forgoing the audio guides since we’re already well versed in the storied history of the place. The line moves quickly and hundreds of folks are shoveled into the ancient wonder in record time. We climb some stairs and the whole magnificent place opens up in grandeur in front of us.
Everyone beelines straight to the glory to set up selfie-ville but we decide to break from the crowd and see what’s going on over to the right.
What’s this about?
“Car. Thag… O?” “Maybe Carthage?” “That makes sense. Check it out?” “Yep, don’t know shit about Carthage.”
The entranceway looks like you’re walking through a gold bar.
Yep. It’s a Carthage exhibit with relics from the city’s archaeological sites, history of battles between Rome and Carthage (The Punic Wars), and some info about the Phoenicians in general.
Carthage, which is on the North East coast of modern day Tunisia, was likely established by the Phoenicians to facilitate trade across the Mediterranean from Tyre, modern day Lebanon. The Greek and Roman legends romanticize the origins, depicting a scene of Queen Elissa (aka Dido) fleeing Tyre after King Pygmalion (her brother) assassinates her husband. She flees aboard ships with her loyal followers and royal gold. After a harrowing journey across the Mediterranean they land in Africa and found Carthage, which is Phoenician for “New City”.
From there the Greek and Roman legends of the Carthage founder Dido diverge. By Grecian account, shortly after founding Carthage, Dido takes her own life by sword, kamikaze-style, in honor of her murdered husband and casts herself into a ceremonial fire to later become a celebrated Goddess of the city. The Romans recount Dido as a fabled poet who’s tea has gone cold yet she managed to pen the track “Thank You” for the Sliding Doors soundtrack which was also later sampled on Eminem’s number one hit “Stan”.
Either way, the city is believed to have been founded in the late ninth century BCE. It would grow to be one of the most influential in the Phoenician empire as a mercantile and military hub.
The rest of the exhibit is a series of glassed in artifacts from archaeological digs in Carthage. There are little statues and figurines, some creepy masks, and some… porridge bowls? Looks like porridge was a major part of the Carthaginian diet. So much so that the Romans referred to them as “porridge-eaters”.
“Oh here’s a recipe for Punic Porridge! Maybe we can open a restaurant.” “Cheese, honey, and eggs? Actually, I’m totally game for that.”
There are also old tablets depicting ancient letters and phrases. The Phoenicians are famously attributed to having invented the alphabet (but not the question mark, that was invented by Dr. Evil’s father in Belgium).
The exhibit rounds out with weapons and armor from the age of the Punic Wars with Rome (264 – 146 BCE) and some cool statues still in decent condition.
Not bad. Learned a bit about the Phoenicians. Might have to add Tunisia to the ever-expanding list of places to go.
Alright, but seriously, time to do the thing.
We climb to the top floor and somehow find a spot without many people about. We make our way over to the edge to take it all in.
Oh yeah, it’s spectacular.
So cool how they’ve excavated this. With the scaffolding and the subterranean floors exposed.
(I’ll just go ahead and ruin some pics then.)
We wander about catching all the angles. Looking out on the Forum and back at Constantine’s Arch. Wow, this place must have been a sight in the height of it’s color and bustle.
The plaques and display text throughout are great too. Really setting the scene and offering some interesting tidbits. I’m just taking pictures of everything because I’m so in awe of the place.
We go down a floor and do a loop around that one. Yep, still super awesome looking from here.
…and back on down to the first floor. This place is so unbelievably cool. There’s some info about the underground areas.
Ha! A little exhibit on graffiti. That’s great. A “problem” as old as humans themselves.
There’s a Tower of Babel style adaptation. It’d be insane if they’d found this in the center of town.
Sounds like they’re winding things down for the day in here. I think we’ve pretty much covered it. Unreal.
We slow roll our way back through the ancient corridors. Passed some fallen columns. A few last minute pics of whatever awesomeness on the way out.
“Well that was a deadly thing to save for our last day here.” “Definitely. Rome is the bomb.” “It is. And somehow even better than expected. I love it.”
The intermittent rain has left Rome on the soggy side. Even so, we decide to just walk back through town to the hostel. Time enough for some brain suds and food before hitting up the train station and making our uscita.
Walking away from the Colosseum I catch a nice reflection in a mud puddle.