Italian restorers cleaning the Colosseum have discovered remains of frescoes indicating the interior of one of the world’s most famous monuments may have been colorfully painted in Roman times. The 2,000-year old arena, originally looked far different from the stone ring that has become one of the symbols of Rome.
The frescoes were found in a passage that had been closed for decades. The passage lead to the highest level of eating, a wooden gallery reserved for the lowest classes and furthest from the action in the arena. The restorers scraped off years of linescale and black pollution from car exhaust and found the remains of the frescoes, with their vivid red, blue, green and white colors still visible. The same team also discovered ancient sketches by spectators who painted crowns and palm trees. The Latin word “VIND”, referring to victory or revenge, was also found. The frescoes likely date from after 217 AD, when a fire destroyed the wooden gallery that topped the Colosseum. The frescoes were discovered during the monument’s first comprehensive restoration project in 73 years, a 25 million Euro project to clean the entire building by 2015. After the restoration is complete, 25 percent more of the Colosseum will be open to visitors, particularly the underground network of tunnels, storerooms and cages.
Restorers have cleaned only a small part of the monument so far, and hope to reveal the detail of what the frescoes depict underneath marks left by centuries of visitors. Written in a modern script, the name “Luigi” was scratched into a well-preserved red section of fresco. Nearby was scrawled the date “1620”, and “J. Milber from Strasbourg, 1902”.