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The Amphitheater at Mrida

Other than the Colosseum, there are no traces of naumachia in Rome. But the amphitheater at Mrida (Emerita Augusta, the capital of Roman Lusitania), which was dedicated in AD 8, does provide an idea of how it may have looked. Below the floor of the arena is a basin 1.25 meters deep (approximately four feet) that measures 26 by 20 meters. It was fed  on the west side of the short axis (above right) by water piped from an aqueduct and drained by channels at each end of the long axis, where there are steps. Faced with opus signinum, a cement made from lime, sand, and pulverized tiles (Pliny, Natural History, XXXV.165), the basin was water-tight and must have been intended for aquatic displays but obviously was too small for any combat involving ships.


Reference: "Launching into History: Aquatic Displays in the Early Empire" (1993) by K. M. Coleman, The Journal of Roman Studies, 83, 48-74.

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