Swiss archaeologists have found a 1600-year-old Roman amphitheatre that was built into an even older abandoned quarry, dating it as the youngest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire.
The dig was initiated while monitoring construction of a nearby boathouse along Europe’s Rhine River, but the hired archaeology agency got more than it bargained for.
Aargau Cantonal Archaeology were already aware of an ancient quarry site in Kaiseraugst – named after the ancient Roman city of Augusta Raurica – but the amphitheatre was a complete surprise, according to a translated statement from the Swiss Department of Education, Culture and Sport.
The new discovery measures 50 metres long and 40 metres wide and included sandstone blocks used for an entrance.
Other clues as to the certainty of it being an amphitheatre include signs of wooden grandstands and stone blocks and mortar.
A coin discovered on the dig dates the site back to between 337 and 341 ACE.
“All the evidence together — the oval, the entrances and the post-placement for a tribune [elected official] — speak for the interpretation as an amphitheatre,” the translated statement read.
The site was likely used to watch gladiators fight and politicians present, according to an article in Live Science.
The article continued to say this kind of amphitheatre – accommodating up to 20,000 people – would have paled in comparison to Rome’s Colosseum which seated about 50,000 people.