Italian restorers discovered the remains of frescoes that once covered the inside of Rome’s iconic Colosseum monument, suggesting it was originally very colorfully painted.
The towering 2,000-year old stadium where gladiators once fought bloody battles for the entertainment of crowds originally looked far different from the iconic stone ring that has become the symbol of Italy.
Working in a passage that had been closed to the public for decades, restorers scraped off years of limes cale and black pollution from cars to discover the remains of painted frescoes, whose vivid red, blue, green and white colors are still visible.
The paintings were found in a passage leading to the highest level of seating, far away from the action in the arena, which was reserved for lower-class citizens.
Blue paint was a costly luxury at the time, and its use in a humble corridor indicated the entire stadium was once intricately decorated.
The exterior of the Colosseum would have been covered in gleaming white marble but restorers were investigating whether parts of the outside might also have been painted.
Ancient graffiti from spectators of the games was also discovered underneath layers of dirt.
Roman citizens had painted crowns, palm trees, which were symbols of victory celebrating the success of gladiators they supported.
The painting was discovered as part of the monument's first comprehensive restoration in 73 years. The 25 million euro project, set to end in 2015, will include the cleaning and restoration of the entire building, known in Roman times as the Flavian Amphitheatre.