Timeline of the Circus Maximus

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The following page, Timeline of the Circus Maximus, attempts to create a timeline of the Circo Massimo's history, architectural development, territorial changes.


Please note that specific dates for certain events may vary in historical records, the following timeline provides a general overview of the significant developments associated with the Circus Maximus over the centuries.

From its humble origins as a simple racecourse in the Roman Kingdom to its zenith as the largest and most iconic arena of the ancient world, the chronological journey of the Circus Maximus is a compelling tale that mirrors the ebb and flow of Roman civilization.

Brief Timeline

circa 600 BCE

The Circus Maximus is believed to have originated as a simple racecourse, on the level ground of the Valley of Murcia (Vallis Murcia) situated between Rome's Aventine and Palatine Hills, during the Roman Kingdom period. At this time in history this area would have been a rich agricultural land.

circa 329 BCE

Earliest Wooden Structures
Titus Livius mentions that the first wooden seating structures were constructed during the reign of the first Etruscan king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, marking the transition from a simple track to a more organized venue for events. These seating arrangements were made for the Rome's highest echelons (the equites and patricians). Around the same time permanent wooden starting stalls were built. These structures were gated, and brightly painted.

circa 280 BCE

First Permanent Constructions
Permanent starting gates, known as the carceres, are constructed, enhancing the organization of chariot races.

circa 50 BCE

Julian Expansion and Reconstruction
Julius Caesar expands and renovates the Circus Maximus, increasing its seating capacity and adding more amenities.

circa 50 CE

Claudian Improvements
Over the centuries the site of the Circus Maximus remaind prone to flooding when during the reign of Emperor Claudius some kind of antiflooding embankments were installed. Around the same time further improvements were made to the Circus Maximus, including the addition of an obelisk from Egypt.

circa 90 CE

Developments During the Flavian Dynasty
In 81 CE the Senate built a triple arch honoring Titus at the semi-circular end of the Circus, to replace or augment a former processional entrance. Emperor Domitian carries out renovations and adds the curved ends to the spina.

circa 200 CE

Severan Period
The Circus Maximus suffers damage from a fire during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus.

circa 330 CE

Constantinian Dynasty
Emperor Constantine completes additional renovations, including the construction of a new imperial viewing box (the pulvinar).

circa 445 CE

Fifth Century CE
The Circus Maximus is damaged during the sack of Rome by the Vandals.

circa 550 CE

Restoration During the Eastern Roman Empire (6th Century CE)
The Circus Maximus is partially restored during the Eastern Roman Empire period.

circa 1130 CE

Medieval Period
The Norman King Roger II of Sicily removes lead from the Circus Maximus for use in military operations.

circa 1586 CE

Pope Sixtus V removes the remaining obelisk from the Circus Maximus and places it in Piazza del Popolo.

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See Also


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