After 2,000 years, gladiators will return to the Colosseum — though only in mock fights.

Umberto Broccoli, head of archaeology at Rome City Council, said a series of mock combats would take place next year to give the Colosseum's visitors a feel of the shows originally staged there, along with "the sights, sounds and smells" of the arena.

The events would be launched to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Vespasian, who began the construction of the Colosseum, completed by Titus, his son and successor.

It has yet to be decided, however, whether the mock combats will be staged on a wooden floor placed over the subterranean chambers in the arena itself — or on a stage outside it.

Broccoli insisted that, however the fights were presented, they would be "authentic," with gladiators wearing the kind of outfits the real combatants wore and using the same weapons and fighting techniques.

The archaeologist, who is also a radio and TV journalist, said this would not be a "tacky" show put on by fake centurions and gladiators who pose for photographs with tourists outside the Colosseum, nor would it be a "Disneyland" attraction.

City officials have said that mock gladiator fights are a more appropriate way to celebrate the anniversary at the Colosseum than pop concerts, which risked damaging the monument because of high decibels and vibrations.