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bastardlyann t1_je42hwn wrote

The Parthenon is an interesting one. It was mostly intact until 1687. The Ottoman Empire controlled the city and was using it to store gunpowder. The city came under attack by the invading Venetian army, and the Turkish garrison withdrew to the Acropolis, at which point the structure was struck by mortar fire causing a massive explosion that killed 300 and destroyed the Parthenon.


mouse_8b t1_je54r38 wrote

I didn't realize this until I was touring the Parthenon. I had assumed it had slowly crumbled over the centuries. It's definitely a strange emotion to know that it likely would still be glorious if not for people fighting.


Korberos t1_je647er wrote

> a strange emotion to know that it likely would still be glorious if not for people fighting

Given that it's dedicated to Athena, god of warfare, and built specifically due to a victory over Persian invaders... it wouldn't even exist if not for people fighting.


PrinceDusk t1_je6bhoc wrote

>Given that it's dedicated to Athena, god of warfare

and given all the more glory for being blown up during a fight


Malikhi t1_je6np6g wrote

Thank you for crediting Athena as a war god. So many people only think of her the god of wisdom not realizing that her birth was literally due to the need for a wartime strategist. She could also throw down. I won't site anything for that one because it's just me liking to picture her putting Ares into a chokehold 😂


Hisei_nc17 t1_je6wr5b wrote

Wasn't she born because Zeus ate some lady he got pregnant, causing him a severe migraine and she just popped out from his head after Hephaestus lobotomized him to stop the migraine? Was there more to that story than the usual self fulfilling prophecy?


dfreshv t1_je7b54b wrote

Man, people say drugs have only gotten stronger over time, but the ancient Greeks were on some shit.


Pays_in_snakes t1_je7k8if wrote

This is why Norse mythology is so wild, it's the cosmology of a people that spent every winter doing mushrooms in the dark


Gwendolyn7777 t1_je8ma71 wrote

geezzz....them ancient Greeks could write some smokin fan fiction, huh?


pseudopad t1_je71o46 wrote

Sounds like it getting blown up is pretty on brand for Athena then


mouse_8b t1_je6zbaa wrote

Haha. I hadn't thought about it from that angle. It does make me feel a bit better about it.


grandlizardo t1_je79lba wrote

Let’s add this to the grievances about the Armenian genocide…


RenterGotNoNBN t1_je7grtq wrote

That's not the reason it was built - sure it commemorates the victory - but I heard a theory that it was used as a kind of show of wealth to underpin their economy - like a modern central bank.


Zandrick t1_je8c9ys wrote

I don’t understand why you think those things are mutually exclusive


Bill_Clinton-69 t1_je8kpim wrote

Some people just like to say 'No' to people. Even when they agree! It baffles me, but I think that's what's happening here.


IChooseThisUsername8 t1_je65x4e wrote

>would still be glorious if not for people fighting.

Lmao Cavafy would struggle to write something this ironic.


MuscovadoSugarTreat t1_je7uamt wrote

The unfinished monoliths of Mahabalipuam is testament to that. They got too busy fighting to ever finish it. It remains unfinished today.


Mightypsychobat t1_je7xk4c wrote

> it likely would still be glorious if not for people fighting.

You forget the Greek were in a constant state of war and was in fact built to honor their victory over the Persians. So war givith and war taketh away.


PickledSpace56 OP t1_je42lbv wrote

Given the history, why y’all gotta store that shit there? Lol come on, man!


fiendishrabbit t1_je4dq9o wrote

"History needs to be preserved" is a very modern idea.


saschaleib t1_je4o4gn wrote

Meanwhile, ”let’s retreat to this old abandoned building that nobody cares about and that is located at a strategic and easily defensible location overlooking the city“ is probably as old as humanity itself.


atomfullerene t1_je5oj0b wrote

> probably as old as humanity itself.

Eh, well, it's probably slightly younger than however long people have been building stuff, heh


Bill_Clinton-69 t1_je8l2dv wrote

Aye, true

Shoulda gone with "retreat to [the high ground] is as old as humanity.


WhalesVirginia t1_je70bpz wrote

The Parthenon was a symbol even then. Invaders stored gunpowder there because it may make some think twice.

We see this even in modern conflict. People will absolutely use mosques or other historical buildings as a disincentive to attack.


I-melted t1_je5yqmh wrote

That’s because they didn’t have history in the olden days.



ClubLopsided t1_je66yw7 wrote

Philomena Cunk, is that you?


I-melted t1_je67ga1 wrote

Lol. She’s great. America have discovered her now. Much to my happiness.


valeyard89 t1_je8uhhf wrote

Yeah it's more like 'hey there's some nice flat stones I could build a house with'


Imperium_Dragon t1_je4pies wrote

It’s a big building in a good position, it’d be stupid not to use it when your life is on the line.


bastardlyann t1_je42wbb wrote

What was left was looted in the 1800s anyway...


Magneto88 t1_je4o84w wrote

Looted is a loaded term. It was legally taken. Whether it’s morally acceptable is another matter.


Eric1491625 t1_je59kjr wrote

It was "legally taken" in about the same was as Paris was "legally occupied" by Hitler and Black people were "legally enslaved and bound to forever serve their masters". It has no meaning to us today.

Saying the Elgin marbles were "looted" is not a loaded term, any more than saying legally enslaved Blacks were "murdered" is a loaded term, just because it was legal.


Magneto88 t1_je5eb8n wrote

The Ottoman Empire was the universally recognised legal authority for Greece at the time. Ipso facto it was legal. Like I said, whether you morally agree with the position and whether Greece should have been ruled over by the Ottomans is another matter. It was however legal at the time the deal was done and the marbles were acquired legally.


bastardlyann t1_je66yoq wrote


But who, of all the plunders of yon fane On high, where Pallas linger'd, loth to flee The latest relic of her ancient reign; The last, the worst, dull spoiler, who was he? Blush, Caledonia! such thy son could be! England! I joy no child he was of thine: Thy free-born men should spare what once was free; Yet they could violate each saddening shrine, And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine.


But most the modern Pict's ignoble boast, To rive what Goth, and Turk, and Time hath spared: Cold as the crags upon his native coast, His mind as barren and his heart as hard, Is he whose head conceived, whose hand prepared, Aught to displace Athena's poor remains: Her sons too weak the sacred shrine to guard, Yet felt some portion of their mother's pains, And never knew, till then, the weight of Despot's chains.


What! shall it e'er be said by British tongue, Albion was happy in Athena's tears? Though in thy name the slaves her bosom wrung, Tell not the deed to blushing Europe's ears; The ocean queen, the free Britannia, bears The last poor plunder from a bleeding land: Yes, she, whose gen'rous aid her name endears, Tore down those remnants with a harpy's hand, Which envious Eld forbore, and tyrants left to stand.

Lord Byron


dragowall t1_je6v5vk wrote

Pretty sure that this claim is being contested right now as there is no official firman from the emperor in the ottoman archives. There is a good chance that Elgin just bribed officials there to take the marbles.


sir_sri t1_je72iu1 wrote

The French government as recognized by the allies and later United Nations never recognized the occupation of France as an annexation.

A better example would be Alsace Lorraine (now Alsace moselle), which was legally part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918.

Countries and their territories are not immutable, and historical governments of countries have no obligation to follow modern notions of historical preservation. Anything held for long enough is a historical artefact. There was no government of Greeks by Greeks from 1453 until the Russian/ottoman capture of the ionian islands in 1800, and Greece itself wasn't a country until either 1821 or 1830 depending on when you want to say it's recognized.


dondilinger421 t1_je9npk7 wrote

What about the Basque? Should we consider them occupied by Spain? Should we all apologize to Sicily for assuming they're part of Italy?


PickledSpace56 OP t1_je433iq wrote

Just people doing people things. It’d have been magnificent to restore the building and repaint and keep the sculptures and artifacts there. Of course even since then there was two world wars and man it’s just tough.


BRXF1 t1_je4ko87 wrote

There's constant restoration work happening in the Parthenon but it's slow moving because restoring something ancient while preserving it and not destroying anything else is hard, meticulous work.

At the moment they're literally piecing together rock fragments to reconstruct the original pieces and where that is impossible they're building new ones from marble which is very similar to the one used in the original construction.

Here's an article from 2019 with some pictures.

Edit: Also, keep in mind that while the Greek identity has existed for thousands of years it has morphed and shifted and evolved. Athens itself has been conquered and administered by a number of empires, and does not have a continuous history as a major city or capital. Cities rise and fall and in the early 1800s Athens had a population of five thousand (yes, thousand) people. It was a forgotten backwater.


BaBaFiCo t1_je47kqc wrote

We've shifted away from restoration, which was more popular in previous eras, to preservation.


Graega t1_je4ap68 wrote

Besides, if you repainted everything Greek to the colors they actually were, your eyes would bleed. I imagine ancient Greece was less Houses of the Holy and more my nephew with a box of crayons and no supervision.


szabiy t1_je73jb3 wrote

The weird crayon like coloured facsimiles we see as examples are based on historians colouring statue copies with flat colours matched to minute remnants of original paint—not artists, and especially not artists with any sort of proper clue about the intricacies of the original paintwork, being allowed to make stuff up. They extract a flake of red from the groove of a cloak, that's the 'crayon' they get to use for the cloak in their reconstruction.

AFAIK there's no extant statue paint job preserved well enough for us to get a decent clue at how the statues may have been originally shaded, blended, hatched, textured, and patterned by contemporary top artists, or to confirm they weren't. It's kind of a big deal we know they were painted at all.

I guess I'm trying to say, don't be too bummed out, we don't have enough proof the ancient artists had paint game as weak as our non artist archaeologists.


valeyard89 t1_je8uoep wrote

Our first guest speaker comes from the year 400 BC, a time when most of the world looked like the cover of the Led Zeppelin album, Houses of the Holy.

We were there. There were many steps and columns. It was most tranquil.

He is sometimes known as the father of modern thought. He was the teacher of Plato, who was in turn the teacher of Aristotle, and like Ozzy Osbourne, was repeatedly accused of corruption of the young.


mvdenk t1_je5lbso wrote

It was, next to the other given reasons, also done semi-intionally targeted against the "heathen pagan religions of old". In the past, there were many Christian and Muslim groups actively despising or destroying pagan monuments (even still in the modern era, see the Taliban for example).


rocima t1_je7b9dj wrote

Or sometimes the opposite. I've written a longer comment in this thread mentioning that as Pagan temples fell into disuse in Ancient Rome as the empire rapidly Christianised, the authorities kept promulgating laws every twenty or thirty years against despoiling the old, pagan buildings (apparently they were good tourist attractions!). However, making new laws means that the old laws weren't working. And this was mainly that the older structures were too convenient as quarries of ready dressed material to reuse in new buildings - churches especially, but also houses, palaces, fountains - you name it. Especially as the older Roman infrastructure & huge slave numbers were declining rapidly.

Only the sanctity of a few holy sites saved them - for a time: the Pantheon became a church (but was still stripped of its Roman bronze doors in the 17th century) and the Colosseum (a martyrs' shrine) survived pretty well till the 16th century when the Pope no less gave his nephew permission to demolish a large part of it to build a suitably enormous palace.


phiwong t1_je40y83 wrote

Resources. These constructions represent somewhat of a pinnacle of entire empires. So there is this vast foundation that is needed for any society to build stuff like this.

If a society expends 95% of their effort merely to give basic food and shelter to their populace, they won't have resources left over to build or maintain such structures. Apart from a few notable empires (and in historic times, it TOOK the resources of an empire), most of the time humanity could basically only get by.

So underlying these things are conquests, slavery, and much looting etc. Once an empire collapses, it basically cannot afford the resources.

This was mostly true until the Industrial Revolution when humanity started to use a lot of non-muscle based energy on demand (not like wind energy for sails, windmills etc). Think of it this way, until the mid 1800s the vast majority of humanity had to engage in agriculture and livestock rearing just to feed itself. Today, modern economies have less than 10% of their human population engaged in agriculture. This frees up a lot more resources to build and do stuff.


PickledSpace56 OP t1_je416kn wrote

So even further, why not restore some of it? We have pretty good guesses and good historical backing on what it might have looked like, why not bring these places back to that now?


phiwong t1_je4281q wrote

There a many old buildings that have been repaired and restored (churches, mosques etc). Broadly speaking, these might have some CURRENT cultural relevance and use. Expensive though. Very expensive.

But there are some sites that are historically significant but are not really "useful". The Parthenon and Colosseum are not going to be of much use even if they were restored. And it would pretty much destroy their historical value. So the benefits of a full restoration certainly don't seem to be worth the cost.


w0mbatina t1_je48l8p wrote

There are actually roman arenas that are still in use. The Nimes and Pula arena both host music shows. You even have live dvds by Metallica and Rammstein from the Nimes arena. Its pretty awesome.


weierstrab2pi t1_je4lysg wrote

Isabella Parigi once performed in the colosseum alongside some random American who looked identical to her.


Theborgiseverywhere t1_je4s12d wrote

My friend Gordo went to that concert!


Everry1146 t1_je5bqe3 wrote

It was mostly intact until 1687. The Ottoman Empire controlled the city and was using it to store gunpowder.


vintagecomputernerd t1_je5vwdz wrote

Don't leave us hanging, what happened after they decided to store gunpowder there? /s


jarpio t1_je5lzua wrote

they even played a hockey game at the arena in Pula in 2012


HappyLeading8756 t1_je4t8rw wrote

Would add that it is important to remember that most sites are located in the cities that have been and still are inhabited. Fact that those sites are still present and have not been used to build other buildings or demolished throughout centuries if not millenniums, already says a lot.

Additionally, you cannot keep it all. You have to make choices. Not only because of limited resources but also because otherwise you wouldn't have a city that would be liveable. When you have layers upon layers of history, you have to make choices about what to keep and what not.


Only_Razzmatazz_4498 t1_je4rxm8 wrote

The Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul that started life as a Byzantine (eastern Roman Empire) church is an example of one used and maintained over the millennia. Also there is a church in Rome (Pantheon) that started life as a Roman gods church (pantheon lol) and has one of the oldest and largest concrete self supporting domes with an opening up top (oculus) for light. I think the doors are the original also.

There might be other counterexamples but as someone said it all depends on whether the structure found other uses and possibly at least in the western world the church was the only large organization with the resources to maintain empire type structures.


Cycleguy57 t1_je4ul4y wrote

To me, the real astonishing thing is that these old monuments weren’t torn down a thousand years ago to re use the building materials. I’m glad they weren’t but I remain surprised.


Abba_Fiskbullar t1_je5coml wrote

Almost all of these structures were used as a source of building materials. The most obvious is the marble cladding from the exterior, and bronze ceiling from the portico of the Pantheon. The marble cladding was stripped by lime burners in the middle ages, and the bronze ceiling from the portico was stripped and melted down by Pope Urban VIII in the 1600s. The main temple of the Parthenon complex was largely intact until 1687, when the gunpowder magazine stored there by the Ottomans was hit by cannon fire from the Venetian Navy and exploded.


Cycleguy57 t1_je5d330 wrote

Thanks for that. I know that the original outer limestone casing on the pyramids were stripped away.


Abba_Fiskbullar t1_je5gqhs wrote

The frustrating thing is that the casings on the pyramids survived for thousands of years, until the relatively recent middle ages, when the ruler of Cairo, Salahadeen's son, ordered that the pyramids be torn down. He wasn't successful, obviously, but we no longer get to experience the pyramids as they were created


Cycleguy57 t1_je5ixrr wrote

Yet another thing I didn’t know. Thanks again


rocima t1_je7cr6d wrote

And the Parthenon probably only survived that long because it was protected by being turned into a church in the Christian Roman/Byzantine empire & then a mosque under the Ottomans.

It's not a coincidence it's the biggest surviving structure (despite the explosion) on the Acropolis, the other buildings will have been demolished.


Biggseb t1_je86r71 wrote

Same with the Colosseum… it was considered a holy site because of the Christian martyrs that died there, sparing it from being completely pilfered and destroyed.


rocima t1_je8bqzq wrote

Though a Pope gave permission for a large part of it to be demolished to construct a huge Palace for his nephew (Palazzo della Cancelleria).

Nepotism vs martyrdom - no competition!


rocima t1_je7c3pk wrote

Most of them were. In the center of Rome only a few examples survive. The rest of that city of one million people was torn down to build the medieval city, or the Renaissance city or even the Baroque city. If you know where to look, later Roman buildings are full of scraps pillaged from Ancient Rome (including much of the lime used in the building mortars: made by burning ancient Roman limestone & marble!)


PickledSpace56 OP t1_je42gs8 wrote

That all makes sense. It is quite the stinker that places like Parthenon will never again have its beauty as depicted in so many stories and drawings.


MadMelvin t1_je4kz8t wrote

If they restored the Parthenon, it wouldn't be the old Parthenon brought back to its original glory; it would just be a new Parthenon like the one in Tennessee. We live in a one-way universe.


RuinLoes t1_je4o45j wrote

The parthenon in tennesse is a projection of our current aesthetic standards onto the greeks. It would not actually have looked like that, it would have been fully painted bright colors.


HappyGoPink t1_je5givz wrote

And so would any aggressive "restoration" of the original Parthenon. If you want to see what it looked like when it was new, build a replica, like they did in Tennessee. The original bears the marks of history, and if you erase those marks, you erase that history.


RuinLoes t1_je5iveq wrote

....? Respond to the wrong comment?


atomfullerene t1_je5oa10 wrote

No, that was a direct response to your comment. A restoration of the parthenon with bright colors would still be a projection of our current ideas onto the past. It might be a more accurate projection, but it's still just a projection not the actual historical thing.


RuinLoes t1_je669pv wrote

What, no.

Thats doesn't make any sense. If we restored it to how it actually was, how is that a projection?

Also, nobody is suggesting we should do a full restoration, so again, what are you talking about?


atomfullerene t1_je6grpq wrote

>If we restored it to how it actually was, how is that a projection?

Because we do not, and can not, ever really know how it actually was. When the older reconstructions were done in all white marble, that's how people at the time thought it was...just like if we did it today, we may do it how we think it was. But even though we know more, we don't know everything. Constant decisions large and small will have to be made, and those will reflect modern ideas. It's just inescapable.


aitherion t1_je4niwj wrote

I'd argue it's just as, if not more, beautiful now than it was then. The age shows its history; the history gives it meaning beyond "cool building".


Muroid t1_je50suh wrote

Also, the white stone looks gorgeous. The way things were painted in bright colors in antiquity was gaudy as hell.

A lot of the classic Greek and Roman architecture and statuary would look kind of stupid to modern eyes that are used to seeing it with the color stripped away.


Dudesan t1_je6d9oy wrote

To be fair, a lot of the "gaudy primary colours" reconstructions are based on traces of surviving paint, all of which would have been from the base coat. There would presumably have been more layers of paint on top of that. For a better idea of what could have been achieved if they put even 5% as much effort into colouring their statues as they did into carving them (and why wouldn't they?), look at any modern minature painter.


frakc t1_je4grek wrote

Have you seen what happened with many olimpic sites? They were not needed and a lot of them abandoned


RuinLoes t1_je4o0ji wrote

Although, if the parthenon was ever fully restored to it 100% authentic peak athenian spendor.... it probably wouldn't look how you think it would. Grekko-roman statuary and architecture tended to be entirely coated in paint, and not always in ways that we today would consider appealing.


loverlyone t1_je5qodc wrote

You should check out the valley of the temples in Agrigento Sicily. There is a Parthenon-like structure there that’s in better shape along with seven other Greek structures from around 450bc.

valley of the temples


chton t1_je4gucc wrote

Adding on to other answers, they do restore them somewhat. A lot of Greek temples and other structures look like ruins but are actually already partly restored, columns re-erected, parts replaced. The intent is to restore it enough to give an impression of what it would have looked like, without straight up guessing or causing damage to the parts that are there.

We COULD restore them with reasonable guesses, but they'll still only be guesses. Better to restore to a point we know, and let the mind do the work.


ChicagoBeerGuyMark t1_je5faid wrote

Much of the restoration would be to preserve things as they exist now, and to keep them from decaying further and falling in on tourists.


chton t1_je94fzf wrote

Not just that, they also rebuild parts that have fallen over or broken, even if it wasn't broken in our lifetimes. If they can clearly identify where a certain part belongs, they will put it back there.

So it's not just preservation, there is actual reconstruction going on too.


Ormyr t1_je4phi0 wrote

Because in order to be "worthy" of restoration it needs to fulfill a function (be useful) and have some sort of return on investment (be profitable).

Otherwise it's up to philanthropy/charity to keep up the place.


canadave_nyc t1_je6e41j wrote

I have an interesting story relating to your question.

I recently visited Tuzigoot National Monument in Arizona, which, for those who are unaware, is a preserved bunch of dwellings that had been built by indigenous populations many hundreds of years ago. It's now maintained by the National Park Service.

In reading the info placards at the site, in the early to middle part of the twentieth century, the NPS's strategy was to try to restore sites to what they once were--using modern materials, consulting pictures or descriptions of what something used to look like, etc. However, that strategy is no longer current with modern thinking. Instead, the NPS now tries to preserve sites solely to prevent them from degrading, but interferes with the sites as little as possible otherwise. So they may build some drainage to prevent water from destroying something, but they're not going to restore something to what it used to look like. This new way of thinking is apparently the modern norm.


grambell789 t1_je6jm7y wrote

Sometime I wish they would build a high quality replica of the pantheon nearby on a hill so I could see what it supposed to look like. There is one in Nashville I'd will be visiting, although I wish it was on a hill similar to the acropolis


SirDooble t1_je7lsud wrote

Well you can't really do that in Athens. There probably aren't any hills around that don't already have other ancient monuments on them. So you'd have to wipe out something else for a replica of another monument already available to see.

Besides which, a large part of the grandiosity of the Parthenon comes from its presence on the Acropolis. There's not another hill around that would match that.


BeemerWT t1_je8hvj4 wrote

Why not just knock it down and put up a McDonald's?

Among other reasons, it's there because it's historical. A testament to a lost time. I would argue we should maintain it's current state, but I'm hesitant to say we should rebuild. Everything done to these monuments throughout history stands as a reminder of the time, and will continue to stand as a reminder of time after should it continue to change.

We don't need the space for anything. If ever there comes a time when we do then taking it down or even rebuilding will just add to the site's rich history.


ThePKNess t1_je5d8x5 wrote

I think this answer, whilst partially correct, kind of misses the bigger picture. Medieval and Modern societies did have the resources for this kind of monumental building. maybe not as many but they certainly did. They just used those resources building things that were useful to those societies, namely churches and cathedrals. The later Middle Ages and Early Modern period saw a massive expansion in the construction of monumental structures like Notre Dame or Cologne Cathedral. As admired as the Romans were the were admired by Medieval and Early Modern people for their vast empire and Christian piety. Pagan temples and arenas for blood sports had largely gone out of fashion before Rome even fell, what purpose would later people have to maintain those ruins?

So whilst you are correct that later societies couldn't marshal the same resources for monumental constructions as the Romans could, it is not really the most significant factor in my estimation.


xCreamPye69 t1_je52j86 wrote

Way WAAAAAY less than 10%

1/10 people living in developed world today aren't farmers. Not even 1 percent. I dont know the exact percentage but its within a fraction of a fraction of a percent, for modern developed countries at least.


phiwong t1_je57yyo wrote

It is low but not that low (fraction of a fraction etc). The four largest economies in the world

US 1.3%

China 22% (expected since it is still developing compared to others)

Japan 1.2%

Germany 1.2%

Adding UK (5th or 6th) ~1% and India 45%


xCreamPye69 t1_je5gp8k wrote

How do you define 'engaging in agriculture or livestock' - as in the farmers that raise the cattle and plant the crops, or anyone that 'engages' in the agriculture/farming industry? (e.g truck drivers, feed suppliers, crop processors etc)


Flo422 t1_je7r4rm wrote

Maybe a better comparison would be: "what percentage of the median income is used to buy food".

Didn't look it up myself, I would guess this changed a lot over past few hundred years in Europe.


Captain-Griffen t1_je56eir wrote

"Developed" and "modern" are not synonymous. Brazil, for instance, has only in the last few years dropped below 10%.


TheSkiGeek t1_je5hle2 wrote

The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are typically still considered as “developing” economies, they still have a lot of people living either without modern conveniences or in total squalor (or both).


VastSprinkles8272 t1_je5rq87 wrote

There might be other counterexamples but as someone said it all depends on whether the structure found


nevbirks t1_je5i759 wrote

To add to this, ancient buildings like the Colosseum or Parthenon requires a master skill level. You can't just have a regular guy walk in and repair. They need to be skilled in ancient busing repairs.

Its similar to old paintings. You can't just use new paint over them, you have to artificially age the paintings and crack the paint to make it blend in.


Mikesturant t1_je5i6z1 wrote

You're saying the Vatican, Rome never had enough finances to provide upkeep?



derthric t1_je690af wrote

Probably not actually, the only reason Rome survived the fall was because of the Church drew people there. Its population dwindled almost 90% and was sacked multiple times in-between the fall of the Western Empire and the Medieval period.

And even then the power of the city waxed and waned depending on who the Holy Roman Emperor was. The Holy See was moved for 70 years to France in the 14th Century

They always had other stuff to spend it on, like Armies, gifts and tributes to avoid attack, defenses, feeding the city, building new buildings with materials taken from those ruins. Keep a pagan building up to its prechristian status was not something anyone would want to spend money on.


skunkachunks t1_je4c1gd wrote

I don’t know if you’re American, but think about buildings like:

-Michigan Central Station, Detroit (abandoned for decades, with some revitalization in progress)

-Any abandoned mall (abandoned, future tbd)

-Astrodome, Houston (abandoned, future tbd)

and ask how they fell into a state of abandonment and disrepair despite the governments of the United States and every state and local government that have jurisdiction over these respective structures staying intact. These buildings became old, expensive to maintain/renovate, and outlived their economic usefulness.

Same thing with these older buildings. Why pay to keep up an old stadium or temple that nobody uses anyway?

Additionally, it’s important to note that the nation that built the Colosseum is not the same nation that is called Italy today. Rome fell around 476 AD along with a lot of the wealth and infrastructure to support something like the Colosseum. Italy wasn’t reunited as a single nation until 1861. Rome didn’t surpass its ancient population until after WWII.


Gullible-Annual-6085 t1_je6m6nj wrote

To add, they were just designed poorly. These buildings were put up without an air barrier in the insulation envelope. This causes a temperature delta between the two substrates with the two air pressure systems interacting with very little force interruption. As a result it would produce the equivalent of 2 liters of moisture per square foot in a building in a month.

That’s a fuck ton of moisture.

All commercial buildings going up now have air barriers to prevent the ungodly amount of moisture that was the biggest problem with the earlier builds.


EsmuPliks t1_je6upes wrote

>To add, they were just designed poorly. These buildings were put up without an air barrier in the insulation envelope.

Meh, we also know now Romans used to mix lumps of calcium into their concrete to make cracks self repair, the "moisture" is by far not the issue. There are plenty of examples across Europe of 400 AD architecture still in good condition, the destroyed ones are usually either explicitly bombed to fuck in one of the hundreds of wars, or just uncared for and destroyed by accelerated erosion as modern infrastructure is built around them. And the occasional earthquake too, when talking about Italy and Greece.


Gullible-Annual-6085 t1_je6vw6c wrote

I disagree. And sure that architecture is still in good condition but that was before the invention of HVAC and the temperature delta between the pressure systems is now much higher than it was during those periods. Besides stone and concrete is mostly an air barrier and is a much better air barrier than the typical buildings put up in 40’s-00’s with just substrate and fiberglass. Masonry buildings put up during this time are also in good shape.

We’re talking about the majority of malls/commercial buildings that have been left to rot.

I think it’s like 80 percent of commercial buildings have mold problems and water damage that were built during this period. I’d reckon the 20 percent are the masonry buildings.


futuraprime t1_je4wdwp wrote

These two examples have pretty specific causes. u/bastardlyann mentioned the Parthenon’s being blown up in the Morean War.

The Colosseum’s a bit different. It had little purpose after the fall of the Empire—it could have comforably held medieval Rome’s entire population twice over. As a building robbed of its purpose, it not only was too much to maintain, but it was a great source of materials. Many of the iron clamps that had held its stones together were pried out and melted down. The marble façade and travertine core—especially where had already fallen down in earthquakes—was effectively re-quarried, as it was much easier to obtain and closer to hand than anything from a quarry. Some of it was used in the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in the 16th century. Some of it was just burned to make quicklime (useful in making steel and cement).

Contrast this to the Pantheon, Rome’s oldest standing building, which was repurposed into a church in the 600s. Or the Castel St Angelo, originally the tomb of Hadrian but rebuilt into the main fortress defending the Vatican. Neither building survives exactly as a late Imperial citizen would have seen them, but nor are they ramshackle ruins. These buildings (and there are many other examples, like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, or the Cathedral of Syracuse in Sicily) have managed to remain useful to their city’s inhabitants for many, many centuries, in different forms and with different uses. (You’ll note that religious buildings tend to do well with this; the Parthenon was also used as a church for many centuries.)

Buildings that aren’t adaptable—like the medieval walls of many European cities, or indeed many of the shopping malls of 1960s America—tend to just be viewed as in the way (or a source of materials for new building) and often get cleared away.


Camburglar13 t1_je7o2ic wrote

Great answer. I was going to give a similar one so was looking for this. Specifically around earthquakes and the stealing of material. Metal and bricks were absolutely stolen from the colosseum and forum etc.


ave369 t1_je48e1h wrote

Nope, they didn't exist for the entire time. Greece was missing from the map for centuries; at first, it was a part of the Eastern Roman Empire (though a core part), then a part of the Ottoman Empire (an oppressed colony). Italy was split into disparate city states for the entirety of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The city of Rome was held by the powerful Papal State (a much larger predecessor to modern day Vatican), but it was not interested in preserving "pagan" monuments (the same could be said about the Eastern Roman Empire).


FreeQ t1_je5cy5c wrote

Ironically by making some of them into churches they gave us the best preserved examples of Roman architecture


Constant-Parsley3609 t1_je4bprz wrote

The Colosseum has been under control of many different people and used for many different purposes. Each change resulted in modifications (ie the wooden seats were all removed to be used as barricades when people started using it as a fortress instead of a stadium).

A lot of the building has fallen down due to earth quakes. Some of which are quite recent. There's markers around the outside that show where the REAL outer walls should be. It used to be a lot bigger.


HankScorpio-vs-World t1_je41olm wrote

Importance, take Greece for example temples to the Greek Gods fell into disuse when Greek Orthodox Church became the main religion and therefore that church wanted the money from worshippers to build its own places of worship and would discourage belief in what went before. This allowed older religions structures to fall into disrepair (much like the in the uk when monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII) helped to highlight they were failed institutions.

However it’s worth noting that in Italy and Greece there is evidence in history that earthquakes led to much of the initial damage leading to the buildings being unsafe and too expensive to repair and from there the time weather and deconstruction did the rest. obviously really tall structures still standing are much harder to steal stone from than the bits that have collapsed which is why some bits still stand and some bits are gone completely. We must remember though that some of what we see today in the colosseum is due to reconstruction works done over the last hundred years.

Buildings like the colosseum in Rome once damaged simply fell out of use because they had no further use, they were to big to take down and it was easier to let them decay. The once flooded and abandoned parts of New Orleans or the car factories in Detroit are chilling reminders that abandonment is something that even happens today.

All of these examples and places like the great pyramids are structures that fell out of use and much of their decay following their abandonment was because local people used them as sources of building materials almost like a quarry only the stones were already cut and piled up.

Remember with many of these old buildings disuse allowed soil/sand to build up and structures slowly being lost under the ground and out of sight. much of the ancient Roman architecture we see in Rome today was only “rediscovered” through excavation in the 18th/19th centuries.


BarryZZZ t1_je54mgo wrote

Many ancient "pagan" structures were treated by subsequent (Christian) generations as quarries. The Giza pyramids were finished of in gleaming white limestone it was entirely stripped off.

The Temple of Artemis at the ancient city of Ephesus, had much of it's marble cladding removed and used in Churches.


doghouse2001 t1_je50swg wrote

It's important to note that the Parthenon didn't degrade slowly over time, and crumbled out of neglect. It was actively blown up. OK it might have been already degraded when it was blown up, but it was still a structure intact enough to store munitions. Then the Venetians lobbed a bomb that ignited the munitions and Kaboom... no more Parthenon.

Today it's parts are being cataloged and when possible, reassembled. SOME of the parts are in museums around the world, so to fully reassemble the parts would require taking them out of museums and placing them back into unprotected open air... an untenable idea for museums, or would require manufacturing new replica parts, which has been done in a few cases.


Cloverleafs85 t1_je4u2uz wrote

Other have already made some good points, the difficulty or resource poverty to repair damaged buildings, and cultural changes that meant some buildings suddenly become undesirable.


At which point they have often been converted into a five fingered discount quarry.


They have been very, very vulnerable to resource looting. Sometimes for ordinary buildings, sometimes for other monuments and other religious buildings.

Often new churches were built on the same site as the former temples, renovating or reusing older parts of the structures.


Some were also used as churches without much adaptation, like the Pantheon, which is still to this day an active church. Though a pope did mug it during the 17th century and absconded with a lot of bronze and marble to build the Barberini Palace.


In the eastern part of the roman empire (byzantine empire) many temples and shrines were demolished by decree and reused to build new churches.

A church in Hagios Kosmas used stones and columns from a shrine to Aphrodite. As far as researchers can tell just about every bit of that shrine is gone and more or less recycled into various structures, some which are also long gone by now.


Quite a bit of the Colosseum that had been damaged by earthquakes and then some was carted off to build medieval and renaissance Rome, until a pope in 1744 put his slipper down and banned the practice as well as declaring it a protected site that could not be demolished. Parts of it is in Barberini Palace, Piazza Venezia and St. Peter's.


You can find stones from a building dedicated to Ramses II (Died 1213 BC) used miles and miles away from it's original place to build the gateway for Shoshenq III (Died 798 BC).

For when you still wants that glorious builder prestige but haven't quite got the same budget. In that case Ramses was from a very different family and time, but Shoseng III wasn't averse to taking from his direct ancestors either.


Recycled sarcophaguses too. Some previous occupants might have been dumped who knows where, and some found themselves reinterred in less fancy environments with new roommates.

And some dispensed with relocating entirely and just cleared out the previous incumbent, relabeled stuff and moved in after death.


If people ever wonder why we don't know where more pharaohs, their relatives and other dignitaries mummies are and who's whom, this is also one of the reasons. You can't even trust these people to stay in their own graves.


Imperium_Dragon t1_je4p96c wrote

The same reason why any building falls into disrepair over time. Funds and manpower are allocated to newer building projects or government officials don’t think they’re worth it.


Kingstad t1_je5tyhd wrote

We value these ancient things more now as they are older and we live in a world of relative abundance so we can give a crap about such things. Most ancient structures have suffered from locals repurposing the materials for whatever else. It might be more relevant for a structure to last long if people arent around to fuck it up, thinking about south american temples, Macchu Picchu, Ankor Wat.


davy89irox t1_je6k3x9 wrote

This is a big question with multiple answers. I am a history undergrad with a focus on ancient architecture. I'll share a little bit from what I've learned in my classes.

  1. Some of these historic sites get totally buried. With the volatile geology of places like Greece the earthquakes that they have and the degree of erosion that they experience off of their mountains and hillsides, huge buildings can be entirely swallowed up. For example, the Athenian Agora was almost entirely buried until about 1930. The only structure that was still visible was the a single temple ( I'll come back to that in a minute). The rest of it had been literally buried from erosion. On top of that burial there were people that had constructed homes and they were compensated and removed by the Athenian and Greek governments in the '30s that way the American schools of architecture could come and excavate the original agora.

  2. They often get repurposed. The structures that wind up standing, like the Hephesteon in the Athenian Agora, do so because they were maintained or taken over by church usually. These are incredible structures that were built to impress and intimidate when they were constructed and they still serve that purpose thousands of years later. The Greek Orthodox Church used it as a cathedral for an extended period of time, I don't actually know how long, but it's the Greek government has gotten involved in the archaeological societies have become more involved It has been restored.

Another way of repurposing an ancient building is to go and take stone out of an original building and use it for whatever it is that you are building. This is really common at archaeological sites that are near small towns or cities where gaining resources might be difficult. If you're a farmer building a stone wall and you have a theater nearby where nobody ever goes, it seems practical to go and just take one of the stones that are there and use them in your wall. This is really common throughout the ancient world and people recover random pieces of text and stole (stones that have engravings on them) all the time in really weird places. What's cool is that if it's done carefully then it can sometimes be one of the best ways to preserve a stole.

  1. Resources are not always available. And some other redditors have pointed out, when a major powerful government like the Athenian League or the Roman Empire collapses the resources become less available because they take colonial holdings in order to keep in order. Without those colonial holdings it gets much more difficult. There's also a time and focus issue, It takes a long time to maintain and reconstruct some of these buildings and if no one really cares to do it then they just fall into disrepair. Especially considering the ubiquity of limestone, and how limestone reacts with acid rain, sometimes this can happen really quickly.

  2. Some of the disrepair is intentional. Some of these buildings fell apart a long time ago through events like earthquakes for example. That earthquake destroying the building imparts its own history into that building. And if an archaeological team goes out and only puts up four or five columns it gives enough, visually, to reconstruct the rest of the building on paper. And really that is what is the intent. They leave them knocked down because to restore them exactly as they used to be, would be incredibly expensive and it kind of takes away from some of that history.

I don't know if that was e l i5 enough, but I really care about it and it's hard to talk about it in other terms.


jakeofheart t1_je5aes4 wrote

For the same reason the US infrastructure is falling apart: the funds to maintain the constructions are no longer made available.


Dbgb4 t1_je5dbjv wrote

Many of these places are zones of historical conflict and that is a cause. Rome defeats Carthage and tears the place down, that in ancient times. Several sieges in documented historical times cause much damage to the Parthenon, and other sites.


ChicagoBeerGuyMark t1_je5etut wrote

In the town of Xanten, Germany, there's an "archaeological park" (Archäologischer Park Xanten) at an old Roman fort. Most of what's left are stone columns and foundations that had minimal restoration to keep them from falling apart further, but they rebuilt much of the town as a great educational attraction. It's also my understanding that many of the great stone edifices were, upon the fall of their empires, pillaged for building materials and road paving. The Goths didn't really have historic preservation on their list of priorities.


tenormore t1_je5m2lc wrote

Another example is the Sphinx, which had it's nose until Napoleon's troops used it for target practice.


gromm93 t1_je5rwdw wrote

The Greek and Roman empires most certainly have not existed the entire time, and you're talking about extremely long timelines. Even if there was a sitting Roman emperor for the past 2500 years and the entire period had not seen a single invasion succeed, you're talking about a maximum 50 year reign for each emperor. That's 50 lifetimes. Now consider that many rulers during that period only lasted a few months and you might start to see the problem.

Try to find a building in New York City that's older than 100 years. Most of them just get torn down for being old and decrepit, and that's with our current engineering technology, using machines and materials that could never have existed in ancient times. Throw in regular earthquakes and other natural disasters that cause further damage.

Thats pretty much what happened to the Roman Colluseum. Several political leaders considered it a ruin worth only it's scrap materials, and used that stone for other building projects to save money. It certainly wasn't usable for its original purpose even 1500 years ago.


SirMcCheese t1_je5vfv1 wrote

Since people have answered the other part well I'll try to explain the second part of the question. No Greece and Italy did not exist the entire time. Athens home of the Parthenon was a city state which ended up conquered numerous times the Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantines (Eastern half of the roman empire after a split), the Ottomans all ruled or conquered the city at points. With the parthenon being partially destroyed while under Ottoman by an attack from the city state of Venice. Which is a nice transition to the fall of Rome. Rome was invaded several times even nearly being abandoned when the aquaducts (the cities water supply was cutoff). The Colosseum was damaged by earthquakes and fire with the Romans not repairing it due to their situation. The Roman empire eventually ended up with small regional powers like the city state of venice. Rome for much of this time was ruled by the Pope as part of the Papel States. There is a bit more, but basically no Greece, and Italy/Rome did not exist the entire time.


DeepVeinZombosis t1_je5x0pl wrote

Ever looked into what the Amphitheatrum Flavium was originally made of? What it would take to replace all that was torn down to burn in order to make quicklime? Sadly, not happening.


spicytakii t1_je5x472 wrote

I used to always think that it would be better to not restore it because if we did, it would lose that ancient feeling. I saw it as if we repaired an old painting; it’d have been touched by the modern world instead of being left alone as a time capsule from the past.


Bright_Pangolin_5374 t1_je5z4dp wrote

YES why not make them like new and like...use the colosseum as a giant museum or something? Or a community center?


Halftied t1_je68hvu wrote

Why are so many glorious buildings of our time abandoned to decay and ruin?


DeadFyre t1_je6a7as wrote

Because maintaining massive stone structures is expensive, and often nobody owns these buildings, and lacks the means to make the upkeep a paying proposition. When times are bad, and money scarce, people's romantic attachment to history very quickly goes by the board.


Any-Growth8158 t1_je6b30p wrote

For the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) and many other structures it was because the buildings were no longer necessary, and the materials used in their construction could be better used elsewhere. Many cathedrals and other public works were created using the stones of ancient buildings. If you look closely at the Colosseum, you'll see thousands of little holes. These are from people who harvested the iron clamps the Romans used to hold bricks together.


Whiskeyisamazing t1_je6br22 wrote

I had the same question about concentration camps. Then I had a chance to visit Dachau during the MLK holiday as I went to Germany for a Nato conference, but due to the holiday me and my DET SGT and I had a whole day to ourselves. So we went.

Dachau, after WWII ended, was used as a refugee camp. We bombed the absolute shit out of Germany during WWII, and most of the populace was experiencing disease and famine (hence why so many camp prisoners died. The Germans literally couldn't feed their own citizens.) So after the Marshall plan rebuilt West Germany, their primary focus was on rebuilding their military. This is in the 1960s/70s, so the big fear was the Soviet Union pouring tank divisions into West Germany. So they neglected it.

Today, the camp is a mostly recreation of what it was like. The original buildings are long gone. They've built reproductions, but everyone back in 1946 had bigger concerns then preserving a camp. I get it now.

So for the answer to why did the Parthenon fall into disrepair, I bet they had bigger problems to deal with.


nycpunkfukka t1_je6fv06 wrote

A lot of the camps got immediate post war use. In the East, the Soviets used Buchenwald for several years to house POWs and political prisoners.


Whiskeyisamazing t1_je6h48i wrote

Yup, and I never knew that. It helped me make sense of why the original camps weren't preserved. The people at the time had way more pressing matters to deal with


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Cetun t1_je6ecl3 wrote

Three things really.

First, these buildings just happened to be built in areas where it is both easy and desirable to build things, which means if you want to build something better or more efficient, you have to remove the old buildings. That decrepit temple dedicated to a god you don't worship anymore is fair game when you need to build administrative offices or a new palace.

Second, maintenance becomes a problem. It might cost more to maintain a building than than the people who surround the area can afford. Moreover, natural disasters happen, large earthquakes tended to be hell on these large stone and brick buildings. Once the roof caves in or the walls fall, the cost of rebuilding would be absolutely not worth it, doubly if you're interested in rebuilding it to the original specifications.

Third, the building material were valuable. If an earthquake knocked the walls down there was little interest on just holding on to those pieces of what is now rubble, the owner might sell it off or people might just come and take the stones and bricks for use in other construction. Sometimes it happens because of normal decay of society, war might come and the government might flee, people will start picking apart the buildings to rebuild their houses because no one is there to stop them. Speaking of war, the material used also happens to be useful for things like walls and fortifications. Military leaders found it easier to use locally sourced material from existing and often decaying buildings than to get their own through a quarry or making their own bricks.

Last, as culturally valuable objects, invaders often would raze these sites to punish a population for resisting or to eliminate their culture. In the 19th and 20th century as artillery and later aerial bombing became more powerful though somewhat inaccurate, things just happened to get hit, or defenders used them for storage of war supplies which made them a target (the Parthenon). Related to that some culturally significant objects were military fortifications and buildings that were destroyed in the normal events of war. Large extravagant gates and walls would have been legitimate targets for destruction, and once captured it was sometimes prudent to eliminate these walls and structures so they couldn't be reused as to deny the enemy their future use. In many cases they were rebuilt but they were often rebuilt in ways that didn't resemble the original, because warfare changes and the design of walls and buildings also have to change. So it wouldn't make sense to restore it and it's original way.

Furthermore sometimes buildings are used and modified throughout their history, which begs the question what point of history do you restore that building to? It's absolute original? Or maybe the way it looked at a key point in history? Or maybe restoring it to a point where we absolutely know what it looked like? Any one of those choices destroys one history to preserve another. It's not something we can decide.


Worldsprayer t1_je6x51d wrote

One of the larger issues is it is difficult to repair something made with ancient techniques in a way that does not make it blatantly obvious it has been modified.

For example it was only recently discovered that what was thought to be a case of poor quality control in Roman mortar was actually intentional and allowed structures to effectively "heal" when their concrete cracked.

As a result, you almost have to go back to ancient techniques to make a repair or improvement that looks the same, and its as simple as the fact that a hand-sawn board looks considerably different than a machine sawed piece of wood...which means in the end...its going to be really expensive.


khalcyon2011 t1_je6ywbo wrote

The colosseum was largely intact until the 14th century when an earthquake knocked down the southern side of it. Rather than rebuild it, everyone was basically "hey, free building materials"


DTux5249 t1_je734a8 wrote

Depends on the structure.

The Parthenon was actually fine up until the 17th/18th century. It got blown up because it was used to store gunpowder during a war.

The Colosseum got destroyed by an earthquake around the year 700. But by that time, the thing wasn't really used for anything anymore, and repairs would require a lot of money and resources that nobody wanted to contribute.... Because it had no used

The big thing to keep in mind is that the main reason these things are awe-inspiring is because they were so massive, and expensive to build. Most countries don't wanna pour billions or trillions of dollars into buildings what solely amount to tourist attractions. The colosseum is basically just a magnet to get foreigners to buy hats at this point.

Especially since the materials used to build them could go towards more practical uses, there's just not any good reason. They're expensive, and currently culturally irrelevant. (Italy isn't Rome. Modern Greece isn't ancient Greece)

Greece especially isn't in an economic state to make that decision. Most countries have other problems to tend to


rocima t1_je79fpu wrote

In Rome the old buildings served as quarries for later buildings- especially Imperial buildings were demolished in the resources-starved medieval period. From the earliest period of Christianity in the Roman empire, the collapse of support for pagan religions meant the temples were neglected and started being pillaged for their decorative stone especially - the bulk of the coloured marble in Roman churches dates from imperial Rome (in the older churches in Rome, most of their often mismatched columns have been taken from older pagan temples) Ever noticed a lot of churches have large disks of coloured stone set into the floor or walls - sections sawn from pagan Roman columns. Marble was burnt to make lime for mortar. We know this was an on-going problem as the authorities from the 4th century onwards kept writing new laws to stop it from happening, as previous laws were clearly not working. So the ravages of time which brought the buildings of imperial Rome low had two legs & hammers, chisels and wheel barrows.

A few buildings were protected as holy sites - the Colosseum survived reasonably intact for a long time as it was a martyrs' shrine, but in the 15th century special permission was given by a Pope to his nephew to take a lot of stone from it to build the ginormous Palazzo della Cancelleria.

Moving large blocks of stone, especially on land, is really difficult in a pre-modern period. Most of the best marbles in Rome came from Asia Minor by boat in the Roman period. Once there was no longer the infrastructure - or the slaves - to move stone, people just grabbed it from the nearest empty building, the temple of whatever. Lots of the older, medieval buildings in the ghetto in Rome have architraves, bits of columns or statues embedded in them, and are probably built with stone & lime & rubble hacked from older imperial Roman structures.

Even Bernini's Four Rivers fountain in Piazza Novanta "re-uses" (that's the correct technical term) travertine blocks from the Roman Circus that used to occupy the site (you can see an excavated space at the North end of the piazza that has a section of the original Roman structure about 4m below current ground level)

It's a fascinating & complicated subject. Some buildings in the center of Rome incorporate stone from all major periods of history: medieval base with inserted Roman decoration, next floor a Renaissance logia, then Baroque window frames, all topped by an illegal 1970s cement terrace.


JlwRfwkm t1_je7l8re wrote

I would argue people did not value historical monuments the same way we are valuing them now. When I grew up Beijing, there’s quite a few 四合院, which is basically a house with 4 sides and a central courtyard. People abandoned those to live in new modern buildings.

Now, some of those are worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars due to historic value.


Okwithmelovinglife t1_je88543 wrote

I have visited the Colosseum twice. Remember these places were built with slave labor originally. The tour guides say that during wars and the dark ages, there was no money. People were poor. The country was poor at times. They used the Colosseum as shelter and stole various metals from the structure. During times of prosperity, restoration efforts have been made including modern times. It’s expensive and time consuming. But the restoration is progressing.


ladygagafan1237 t1_je8lc5a wrote

So there are a few possible reasons. Some buildings fell out of use because they built newer more modern buildings.

Some buildings were for religious purposes. So as people moved away from the ancient religions these buildings didn't serve much of a purpose.

Buildings were also subject to environmental destruction such as earthquakes, erosion, etc. A major earthquake is the reason why part of the one side is missing in the Colosseum.

But probably the biggest reason is that they were made out of useful or valuable resources like marble and iron. It was common for builders to take parts of buildings and in corporate them into new buildings to cut down on cost for construction of the new building. Take the Colosseum in Rome for instance. The Colosseum was partly made out of marble and most of its marble was taken and used in the construction of St Peter's Basilica and possibly used for private residences of the wealthy. Also with the Colosseum theives would drill holes into the building to steal the iron.

However if a building was repurposed for another use then the building would be frequently maintained. Take for instance the Pantheon in Rome. It's one of the best preserved ancient Roman building. In the early 600s AD the former Roman temple was converted to a Catholic church. As a result it was maintained and perserved.


klowder42 t1_jebb0bw wrote

They stole blocks from the colesium to make new buildings. Homeless people were living in the colesium. I remember that from the tour anyways