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Last updated at 10:50 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Is Rome's Colosseum falling apart?

Summary

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.

Reporter
Kathy Harcombe

computer-generated image of the Colosseum

Gladiators once fought in the Colosseum

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Report

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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Vocabulary

the emblem

a picture of logo that represents a country

wild beasts

untamed animals, usually big and four-legged

spectators

people who watch an event

mighty monument

imposing building with a strong historical significance

crumbling

falling into pieces

environmentalists

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

vibrations

periodic motions or shakes

restoration project

building works to make a building resemble its original condition

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