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Photographer's Note

El Jem is famous for its amphitheatre, capable of seating 35,000 spectators. Only Rome's Colosseum and the ruined theatre of Capua are larger. The amphitheatre at El Jem was built by the Romans under proconsul Gordian, who was acclaimed Emperor at Thysdrus, around 238 and was probably mainly used for gladiator shows and chariot races. It is also possible that construction of the amphitheatre was never finished.

Until the 17th century it remained more or less whole. From then on its stones were used for building the nearby village of El Jem and transported to the Great Mosque in Kairouan, and at a tense moment during struggles with the Ottomans, the Turks used cannons to flush rebels out of the amphitheatre.

The ruins of the amphitheatre were declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.

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