30 December 2011
The Italian government is investigating reports that pieces of rock have fallen off the Colosseum in Rome. Witnesses reported seeing the fallen masonry on Christmas Day. It has raised concerns about the maintenance of the monument.
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The emblem of the Roman Empire, where gladiators once fought wild beasts and each other to entertain spectators. Built almost 2000 years ago, the Colosseum is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.
Now though there are fears that this mighty monument may be crumbling. Italian environmentalists have frequently raised the alarm about the precarious state of the Colosseum.
They claim that exhaust fumes and the vibrations from vehicles and a nearby subway are damaging the monument. But the Colosseum authorities say there is no cause for panic.
But there is sufficient fear over the state of the building to warrant a US$ 33 million restoration project due to begin in March.
Kathy Harcombe, BBC News, Rome
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- the emblem
a picture of logo that represents a country
- wild beasts
untamed animals, usually big and four-legged
people who watch an event
- mighty monument
imposing building with a strong historical significance
falling into pieces
people who are very interested in the environment and try to protect it from being damaged
- precarious state
not stable or secure
- exhaust fumes
gases expelled by an active vehicle engine
periodic motions or shakes
- restoration project
building works to make a building resemble its original condition