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Colosseum cleaning yields old frescos, graffiti

The Associated Press, Friday, January 18, 2013, 6:27am (PST)

ROME (AP) — A long-delayed restoration of the Colosseum's only intact internal passageway has yielded ancient traces of red, black and blue frescoes — as well as graffiti and drawings of phallic symbols — indicating that the arena where gladiators fought was far more colorful than previously thought.

Officials unveiled the discoveries Friday and said the passageway would be open to the public starting this summer, after the €80,000 ($100,000) restoration is completed.

The frescoes were hidden under decades of calcified rock and grime, and were revealed after the surfaces were cleaned. The traces confirmed that while the Colosseum today is a fairly monochrome gray travertine rock, red brick and bits of moss-covered marble, in its day its interior halls were a rich and expensive Technicolor.

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