A team of archaeologists, led by Professor Richard Beacham, of the University of Warwick, has built a three-dimensional model using computers, recreating the vast auditorium of the Pompey theatre, which stood for centuries as the prototype for all arenas. .
Prof Beacham's team now hopes to perform "keyhole archaeology" by digging to the foundations via a restaurant doorway. Professor James Packer, of Northwestern University, Illinois is directing the excavation of the theater as part of a research project begun in 1996. In 2002 they joined with archaeologist Cristina Gagliardo, architect Dario Silenzi, and engineer Massimo Aristide Giannelli to undertake the first excavation of the theater since 1865.
Descriptions by the ancient historian Pliny of a gigantic structure were dismissed as gross exaggerations. But a two-year study, involving aerial photography, cellar inspections, the sifting of archives, mathematical extrapolations and computers has partially vindicated Pliny. Let's just mention that Pompey's Theatre with its 100-meters-wide stage and 35,000 seats is still today the largest theatre ever built.