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Among the most significant awnings in the ancient world was the velarium, the massive complex of retractable shade structures that could be deployed above the seating areas of the Roman Colosseum. Made of linen shadecloths, timber framing, iron sockets and rope, the system could effectively shade about one-third of the arena and seating; another third could be shaded by the high surrounding walls, providing a majority of seats some shade on a blinding afternoon. It is believed that sailors, with their background in sailmaking and rigging were employed to build, maintain and operate the velarium.