I spent over an hour and half circling the amphitheater’s collapsed bulk, studying its building techniques and engineering. During some of that time, I lingered in front of two of its surviving arches. One had a bust of Diana sculpted into its keystone, and the other Juno. The implications were insane. At Rome’s Colosseum, each intact archway’s keystone bears a Roman numeral. When it was new, there were just over seventy entrances, and each one was numbered. Furthermore, each number was rubricated (i.e. painted red). That made the numbers more visible, providing you weren’t colorblind… Roman spectators used numbered entrance gates, expediting entering and exiting the Colosseum. And that makes sense.
Here instead gods and goddesses marked the 80 entrances. “Ignosce mi, domina, Mercuri fornix ub’est?” (Pardon me, ma’am, where’s Mercury’s gate?) Sure, the use of divinities in the place of numbers contributed to the list of perfect ancient pick-up lines. But was it an efficient way of getting spectators in and out of the amphitheater? Who knows! In the first photo, you’ll see the goddess identified as Diana. And, in the second, both Juno and Diana. When the ancient amphitheater in Santa Maria Capua Vetere was intact, dozens of other gods and goddesses proudly scanned the horizon from their lofty keystones. Their remains are now housed at the Campania Museum in Capua, the Archeological Museum in SMCV, and the National Archeological Museum of Naples.