Awnings are remarkable building features that have changed little over the course of history. Records dating back to ancient Egypt and Syria make note of woven mats that shaded market stalls and homes. In the Roman Empire, large retractable fabric awnings sheltered the seating areas of amphitheaters and stadiums, including the Coliseum. The Roman poet, Lucretius, in 50 B.C., likened thunder to the sound that "linen-awning, stretched o'er mighty theaters, gives forth at times, a cracking roar, when much 'tis beaten about, betwixt the poles and cross-beams." Over the next two millennia, awnings appeared throughout the world, while the technology in their construction changed very little.
As a side note, I am sure the fabrics hold up a lot better today than they did then.