A Russian tourist has been hit with an eye-watering $25,000 fine for doing what visitors have done for thousands of years: leave their mark on Rome's Colosseum. The man was caught in the act of inscribing a 10-inch-tall letter "K" on a wall inside the ancient building, reports the Guardian. The amphitheater's director says the fine is justified because the man had damaged a "magnificent and symbolic monument." She says that out of 6 million visitors, only four other vandals have been caught this year: An Australian father and son, a Canadian teenager, and a Brazilian teenager.
The "extraordinarily high" fine appears to be a new method of protecting the monument, a Rome-based archaeologist says. But people have been scrawling on the 2,000-year-old landmark since the days when crowds of up to 50,000 watched gladiators battle lions inside, National Geographic reported last year when the building was undergoing a face-lift. Clearing away grime revealed that large numbers of 19th-century tourists wrote their names on the Colosseum, and ancient Romans left behind plenty of images and messages, including a red palm frond with the letters "VIND," which archaeologists believe may have been part of the word vindicatio, meaning "vengeance."