The damage to the amphitheater in Virunum

The Amphitheater of Virunum was designed for 3-4000 visitors and was erected under the Emperor Hadrian (after 126/131 A.D.), but was abandoned under Emperor Constantine (315/316 A.D.). Between those times, it was extensively restored twice: A.D. 183/184 and 236/237. The findings in the excavations underscore and expand on the already mentioned construction measures with Latin inscriptions on marble plates. 

Period of 183/184 A.D

In the period of 183/184 A.D., partial damage to the amphitheater occurred. There was no collapse of parts of the structure, but statically necessary reconstruction as well as extensive renovations of the site was done. 

The Restoration in the years 183/184 A.D.

According to the construction documents of the mayor Sext. Sabineius Maximus in 183/184 A.D., the following work was completed:

  1. The walls of the amphitheater were re-plastered.
  2. One or more entrances were erected.
  3. New portals were erected.

According to archeological findings, the following work was completed:

4. The north gate was extended 3.7 m to the west.
5. In the area of the south gate, at least the ground level was raised.
6. The operating chamber in the west was enlarged.
7. The underground entrance was back-filled due to static problems
8. The ground level in the arena as well as the Nemesis sanctuary were renovated .
9. Entrance IV was renovated.

Period 236/237 A.D

In 236/237 A.D., the east half of the amphitheater with the Nemesis sanctuary and the governor’s loge (pulpit) over it, to a length of 43 meters, was so run down and crumbling to such an extent that a new construction was necessary. Also the south portal had been damaged.

Typical for the new construction of walls is the use of marble inscriptions and architectural pieces. As a collapse due to water or slope pressure is unlikely from a static point of view, the damage of a severe earthquake is documented here.

The Restorations and New Buildings in 236/237 A.D.

According to the construction documents of C. Cassius Honoratus from May 15, 237 A.D the following work was completed:

  1. A piece of the wall, 40 Roman feet long (11.85 m), had collapsed and was erected again from the ground up.
  2. The podium wall was plastered and painted with pictures of life-sized figures.
  3. A new portal was erected.

According to archeological findings, the following work was completed:

4. A piece of wall, approximately 40 Roman feet long, was identified. It is the inner podium wall south of the Nemesis sanctuary. The wall was 1.3 meters thick and 3.65 meters high, and was reconstructed from the ground up over the old foundation.
5. North of that, two additional areas of the same podium wall, 18.98 and 4.8 meters long, were also reconstructed.
6. The drainage shaft to the northeast of the arena was abandoned and back-filled.
7. The south wall of the Nemesis sanctuary - and thus the governor’s loge (pulpitum) was newly erected.
8. Renovations to the south portal were done.
9. Earth mounds in the area of the entrances that had already been back-filled in 184 A.D. were made.

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