What did Romans eat at the Colosseum? A search of sewers found some familiar snacks

Gregorio Borgia/ASSOCIATED PRESS

An exploration of ancient sewers beneath the Colosseum, the world’s most recognizable stadium, revealed the kinds of food spectators snacked on in the stands and the animals that met their fate in the arena.

Archaeologists located traces of vegetables, small fruits and even pizza, in addition to meat that was cooked on improvised braziers, according to a statement from the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum.

Remnants of a variety of healthy snacks were found, including olives, figs, grapes, peaches, plums, walnuts, cherries, hazelnuts and blackberries, according to Agenzia Cult.

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Also unearthed were the bones of lions, leopards, bears and dachshunds, the statement said.

Thousands of wild animals were killed in the Colosseum for sport, according to the Atlantic, and the business of transporting exotic beasts from far-flung lands was a profitable operation.

The researchers, who began exploring the sewers in January 2022, set out to discover the workings of the stadium’s hydraulics system using wire-guided robots, according to Agenzia Cult, and they presented their findings in Rome on Nov. 24.

The process involved clearing about 230 feet of sewers, according to Reuters.

In addition to food and animal bones, archaeologists unearthed a variety of other small household items, including game dice, pieces of leather and 52 bronze coins, according to Agenzia Cult.

The subterranean drainage system yielded artifacts that “deepen our understanding of the experience and habits of those who came to this place during the long days dedicated to the performances,” said Alfonsina Russo, the director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, according to Reuters.

The nearly 2,000-year-old stone stadium hosted gladiator fights, in addition to other public spectacles, and it could seat 50,000 people, according to National Geographic.

The monumental structure fell into disuse during the early Middle Ages and was later used as a fortress and a hospital, among other things, according to ANSA.

Today, as research continues, tourists flock to the storied arena by the millions, according to National Geographic.

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