The Roman Army and Chariot Experience
The team of experts that collaborated to make the Roman Army and Chariot
Experience [RACE] come to fruition invested time and effort to realise
a dream that is ambitious and extraordinary.
The RACE team is comprised of
a mix of visionaries, entrepreneurs, an owner of a stable of magnificent
stallions, a technical advisor on Roman warfare, a scholar and advisors
on chariot construction and harnessing, antiquities and restoration advisors,
investors and both public and private support.
This illustrious team is committed to bring home to the hippodrome a
show to add value and entertainment to the visitors of Roman Gerasa.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan warmly supports the
The Jordan Tourism Board gives its backing to RACE, confident that the
project is serious, viable, and faithful to its mission.
RACE will enthral and entertain you at this jewel of a hippodrome in
Roman Gerasa. The brainchild of Stellan Lind assisted by Jeff Cullis,
the RACE concept became a reality after extensive research into the feasibility
of the project and the ability to recreate a Roman era event in an authentic
Of course, everything has to be just right. Trial runs with four horses passing through the starting gates of the hippodrome to ensure that Roman quadrigae with charioteer would re-enact the past as expected. The archaeologist in charge of restoration is busy overseeing the filling-in of the race course floor, covering the foundation layer with a thin hard surface and dusting it with sand as it would have been in antiquity.
The Jordan government recognising the value of this site and the Project,
financed the restoration and reconstruction of the hippodrome located
outside the city walls, close to the South Gate.
Comparatively small in size, the hippodrome measures 244 by 52 meters,
considerably smaller than the famed Circus Maximus of Rome. The ten starting
gates are curved and designed to give each contestant an equal advantage,
their wood doors swinging open in response to the trumpet (Greek style)
signalling the start of the race. Originally boasting sixteen rows of
seats that held 15,000 spectators, the arched passages beneath may later
on have become pottery workshops and storage areas.
Roman Gerasa was a typical Roman provincial town, speaking mainly Greek,
therefore it is possible that the circus was originally designed for Greek
style racing and may have been the arena for chariot and equestrian races
and games, even after the Islamic conquest.
RACE sought the advice of experts to train Jordanian charioteers. Ben-Hur,
the masterpiece motion picture that featured a chariot race with seventy-eight
horses on a lavish set, was the reference point for an experienced charioteer
to assist the team.
Chariot construction needed to appear authentic to the time and yet take into consideration the necessary safety of the charioteers. Roman and Greek chariots were constructed from lightweight materials bent willow rails with thin struts of wood and laced with leather strips. A renowned expert on ancient chariots was consulted. Finally a compromise was reached and a prototype selected for a Roman chariot suitable to the pomp and pageantry of ancient Rome.