Christian Basilica and the Amphitheater

The Tomis Amphitheater was discovered in 1989 during the excavations made for the foundation of a hotel in the Modern-Esplanada area. If asked about the location, an expert will tell you that the building is located near the main gate of the city, near the junction of “Dragos Voda” str. with  “Mircea the Elder” street. As usual, the amphitheater can be found inside the walls of the Roman city, just like in other settlements, such as Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. The archeologists that researched the site have established that the edifice operated all the way until the IVth century CE. , after which a Christian basilica was built over it.
The amphitheater had a medium size and it was considerably smaller than the Colloseum or those found in Capua or El Djem  in Tunis. Most likely, it was an ellipsoidal edifice about 100 meters long and  80 meters wide with an area of around 55-60 meters on 35-40 meters. Regarding its height, one of the more plausible hypotheses indicates figures of 20-25 meters. Judging by the archeological remains, the building was at its peak during the  II.nd and III.rd centuries AD.

There are several hypotheses regarding the capacity of this amphitheater. According to some sources, the building could hold at least 2000 people, while other hypotheses indicate even a capacity of 20,000, in a time when Tomis was a very populated city. Sadly, knowing the exact numbers is difficult to know.
An interesting fact is that a funerary stone of one of the gladiators who fought in the amphitheater was discovered inside the building. His name was Scirtus Dacensis, he was of Illyrian origin and died in Pontus Euxin after winning six victories. The inscription has the following words written on it:” (I) Scirtus Dacensis,was set free,with 6 victories,left this life before my time, I am  buried in Tomis ,and this grave is my home, I wish you all good health.”

About the basilica built above the amphitheater  is known that it was built in the Roman-Byzantine era in the V-VI centuries AD. The building is oriented in the direction of NV-SE, and its external dimensions are 55 x 24 meters. The stone walls are ranging  from a thickness of  0.9 meters to 1.25 meters. The nave has its dimensions of 31 x 21 meters. The architectural plan is composed of three aisles and two rows of columns. The roof, as custom goes, is arched. The main aisle has a height of 11.6 meters, while the side ones are small, with an opening of four meters. The apse is pentagonal, with an opening of 9 meters, while the narthex has an area of 21.6 x 3.8 meters. Small traces of painting with geometric figures and floral motifs were preserved. The basilica did not have a simple  architectural plan, but had three other extra rooms, of which today only fragments remain. Together, they can form an atrium. The annexed building, which was attached by the structure to the rest of the basilica, had a series of successive rooms, in the northern part of the basilica. The dimensions of the first room are 5.7 x 4 meters while the last two are identical, with 9 x 3.8 meters. The northern part of the ensemble also had a porch, and the building inside was paved with stone slabs. This construction is part of a series of seven Christian basilicas from Tomis. Like usual, the Christian symbols found that are found here are the cross and the dove.

Although the ruins are kept in the specially designed rooms in the basement of the current Ibis hotel, they are not included in a tourist circuit and cannot be visited.

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