A cleaning of Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum has revealed a colorful piece of its history: a passageway decorated with ancient frescoes and a surprising bit of graffiti.
The famous arena, which once saw the bloodshed of gladiators, is usually associated with a stark absence of color. For a structure aesthetically dominated by stone and marble, this new discovery indicates that its past may be more visually vibrant than once thought.
An article by The Associated Press writes that restorers unveiled remnants of frescoes with a colorful palette of black, green, red, and blue. Along with the ancient paintings were traces of phallic symbol drawings and other graffiti.
The discovery, unveiled by officials on Friday, was made during restoration work inside the Colosseum’s only intact internal passageway. Buried beneath decades of dirt and calcified rock along the passageway walls, the process of fully uncovering the long hidden artwork took two months.
According to Reuters, along with the frescoes the restoration team also discovered ancient graffiti drawn by spectators at the Colosseum. Sketched across walls are Latin words of victory and symbols of celebration for winning gladiators. Mariarosaria Barbera, Rome’s archaeological superintendent, spoke of the find:
“This is a beautiful archaeological surprise. Even in a monument as well known as this one, studied all over the world, there are still new things to discover.”
The passageway that is home to the colorful frescoes and graffiti, located between the second and third levels of the 1st Century Colosseum, will be open to the public in the summer of 2013.