Rome, Italy; 70–82

Rome was the capital of a great empire, which annexed Greece in 146 BCE and adapted Greek architecture. The empire spread across Europe, northern Africa and western Asia – all the lands bordering the Mediterranean and much more besides. By the time the Colosseum was built, Rome was by far the largest and most powerful city on Earth, and it had problems that had rarely been faced before, including the threat of popular revolt. The rulers’ formula was to offer ‘bread and circuses’ – sustenance and entertainment – to divert the masses from protesting about their poor living conditions.

A surprising amount of the space ...

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