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Amphitheater Underground

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Amphitheater Underground
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Photo Comments

View of the cruciform subterranean complex that consisted of four underground passageways that led to the center of the arena.  This complex housed the wild beasts before the combats.  There were eight trap doors that led to the arena surface.  The open area is where the four passageways met and the two metal gratings indicate where two of the trap doors were located.

Note the height of the wall around the arena that protects the spectators.  Also, note the entrance/exit from the barrel-vaulted passage (ambulacrum).  Most of the stones of the upper seating area were been taken away and recycled—in ancient times.  The two column stubs are meager remnants of many that supported a roof the shaded shops—during the Byzantine Period, when the structure was no longer used as an amphitheater.

The amphitheater was constructed in the second century AD when Roman troops were settled in this area—after the Bar Kochba Revolt (AD 132–135). It measures 233 x 185 ft. and could seat 3,500.  It was used for gladiatorial and animal fights, as a training ground and or as a parade area.  After the earthquake of AD 363, it was turned into a market place with stalls ringing the arena and in the Ambulacrum.  It was excavated by Amos Kloner in the 1990s.