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Gladiators Fought To death In Chester (UK)
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 2-17-2007 | Nick Fleming

Posted on 02/17/2007 11:13:57 AM PST by blam

Gladiators fought to the death in Chester

By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:09am GMT 17/02/2007

Gladiatorial contests took place at the largest amphitheatre in Roman Britain, according to new evidence unearthed by archaeologists.

An artist's impression of Chester's ampitheatre

Finds at an excavation of the arena in Chester provide the most conclusive proof yet that it played host to grisly fights to the death for public entertainment, and reinforce the view of the town's importance in the Roman Empire.

A stone block with iron fittings was discovered at the centre of the two-storey amphitheatre, which dates back to about AD100. It is similar to one depicted in a 3rd century mosaic found at a Roman villa at Bignor, West Sussex, which shows two gladiators fighting.

It is the third such stone block found at the site and its location suggests the anchors were evenly spaced along the long axis of the arena preventing gladiators from sheltering against the arena wall and thereby giving spectators the best possible view.

Dan Garner, an archaeologist at Chester City Council, said: "Any thought that Chester's amphitheatre was used purely for military purposes such as military tattoos or drill practice can now be firmly banished.

"Up to now, we have found human and animal remains to suggest that gladiatorial games may have taken place, but the discovery of the third chain block put that suggestion almost beyond doubt.

"I dare say that people met a rather brutal end in Chester's arena some 1,900 years ago."

Tony Wilmott, an archaeologist at English Heritage, said: "There are still a number of questions: whether humans or animals were chained; whether the chains were long or short; or whether the chains passed through the ring on the stone allow-ing a degree of free movement.

"It is possible that the blocks were also used for displaying exotic animals or for executing criminals who would be cast into the arena together with violent beasts.

"What is certain is the Romans' flair for mass entertainment. By chaining victims to these blocks along the long axis, they were trying to ensure that spectators had the maximum view of whatever was happening and did so by preventing victims from sheltering against the arena wall, where they could be seen by only half of the audience."

While the archaeologists cannot be sure precisely which forms of gladiatorial encounters were staged in Chester, it is known there was a special type of gladiator called a bestiarius, who was trained to fight different types of animals.

The amphitheatre, 230ft in diameter, was discovered in 2005 beneath the remains of a later, larger arena. Half the site lies beneath a built-up area.

Previous finds include beef ribs, chicken bones, mass-produced Samian pottery bowls depicting gladiatorial scenes, a human tooth and large quantities of yellow sand — possibly brought in to soak up the blood.

Also newly discovered is evidence of eight vaulted stairways, known as vomitoria, that opened directly on to the street and served as entrances to the auditorium.

Two foundation stones that formed the base for substantial half-columns have led the archaeologists to conclude there would have been one storey of such columns.

These architectural discoveries have allowed English Heritage experts to create a reconstruction of the height and grandeur of the amphitheatre.

They found the closest parallels to be the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre of El Djem, Tunisia.

Unlike other smaller, more basic amphitheatres in Britain, the one in Chester had proper seating for about 10,000 spectators on two storeys.

The size and elaborate exterior design of the amphitheatre further underline the importance of Chester to the Roman Empire.

The new findings, made as part of a collaboration between English Heritage and Chester City Council, will be presented at the international symposium Roman Amphitheatres and Spectacula: a 21st century perspective, to be held this weekend.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; chester; gladiators; godsgravesglyphs; roman; romanempire; uk

1 posted on 02/17/2007 11:14:04 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 02/17/2007 11:14:28 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

"Chester, Do you like Gladiator Movies?"


3 posted on 02/17/2007 11:27:30 AM PST by Oztrich Boy (Sheik Hilali: Cultural learnings of Australia for make benefit of most glorious nation of Islam)
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To: Oztrich Boy

No, Mister Dillon.


4 posted on 02/17/2007 11:48:04 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
I wonder what the commercials were like. Better yet, did they have cheerleaders?

There was a great show on one of the science channels a while ago, trying to prove that Roman amphitheatres had donut-shaped retractable canvas roofs. They did hands-on experiments on existing ruins that were pretty convincing.

No word about artificial turf yet.

5 posted on 02/17/2007 12:00:48 PM PST by David_G_Burnet (My other ID is in the shop)
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To: David_G_Burnet
"There was a great show on one of the science channels a while ago, trying to prove that Roman amphitheatres had donut-shaped retractable canvas roofs. They did hands-on experiments on existing ruins that were pretty convincing."

I saw that...it was pretty convincing.

6 posted on 02/17/2007 12:06:10 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

There must have been a lot of gladiatorial combat that wasn't "to the death", for the obvious reason, gambling.

The gamesters of the time would quickly realize that the crowd wanted a good fight far more than a kill. But training good fighters takes time and money. And only a few are ever going to be real crowd pleasers.

You don't want to see such profitable talent hurt or killed.

I imagine that you would see a lot of the elements of professional wrestling in gladiatorial contests. For example, professional "villains", for the "good" gladiators to defeat on a regular basis, on the gladiatorial "circuit".

Of course, the matches would be fixed, not that the crowd minded as long as they got a good show. And there would be death, at their equivalent of the playoffs.

Most fights would be held at small, rural venues all over the empire, and a city would be on the map only when it got its own amphitheater--so every town wanted one.

There are all sorts of possibilities: gladiators killing untrained condemned prisoners would be very popular, especially if the condemned was widely hated. And there was probably all sorts of other entertainment presented at the same time, along with stadium concessions.


7 posted on 02/17/2007 1:17:25 PM PST by Popocatapetl
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To: Popocatapetl
You're right. The more successful a gladiator was, the less he would fight to the death. The owners had too much value in him to risk his being killed. The gladiators were the rock stars of the age. Between big name stars, they fought to first blood.

Many gladiators fulfilled their service and retired rich. The Emperor Commodus (like in the movie) fancied himself a gladiator and was killed in a wrestling match with a real gladiator given orders to do him in.
8 posted on 02/17/2007 4:54:51 PM PST by johnmark7
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Archaeologist's Find Could Shake Up Science (Topper Site)
SP Times | 1-7-2007 | Heather Urquides
Posted on 01/08/2007 2:14:54 PM EST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1764245/posts

Yorkshire clan linked to Africa
BBC | Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Posted on 01/24/2007 6:19:12 AM EST by Jedi Master Pikachu
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1772719/posts

Study provides first genetic evidence of long-lived African presence within Britain
Wellcome Trust via Eureka Science News | Jan 24, 2007 | Craig Brierley
Posted on 01/25/2007 7:39:21 AM EST by Pharmboy
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1773378/posts


9 posted on 02/17/2007 4:59:40 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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Whoops. That Topper site link was an accident. :')


10 posted on 02/17/2007 5:02:00 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

11 posted on 02/17/2007 5:02:21 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam

Early crazed Brit fan ping


12 posted on 02/17/2007 5:25:15 PM PST by madison10
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To: blam

Hot Stuff!

Getcha hot ribs and chicken wings here!


13 posted on 02/17/2007 5:36:24 PM PST by wildbill
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To: wildbill

I can see 10,000 Roman-era Brits doing "The Wave".


14 posted on 02/17/2007 8:29:31 PM PST by Ciexyz (Amazing Grace the film, in theaters Feb 23rd, about abolishing slave trade in Britain.)
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To: David_G_Burnet
No word about artificial turf yet.

___________________________________________________________

Sadly; the various coliseums vast spectators never witnessed the arrival of "The Wiener-mobile."

Heartbreaking, really.
15 posted on 02/17/2007 8:39:04 PM PST by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: Popocatapetl
The June 2006 Discover Magazine had an interesting article on Rome. The article stated that in the the Coliseum in Rome, they had a special room or chamber where they slit the throat of the losing gladiator to make sure he was dead. This was their quality assurance mechanism to prevent fixing the fights. Also, the article stated gladiators, even the best of them rarely lasted more than a maximum of 10 matches. Think of the NFL football cliché "on any given Sunday" applied to gladiator's career. Here's an excerpt from the article:

At the end of each fatal match, stretcher bearers hustled out on the floor of the arena to collect the fallen gladiator and carry his body to a nearby morgue, or spoliarium. There officials slit the man's throat to ensure that he was truly dead: Roman bettors despised fixed matches..........

As studies of epitaphs show, skilled gladiators rarely survived more than 10 matches, dying on average at the age of 27.

16 posted on 02/18/2007 12:38:20 AM PST by eeman
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To: SunkenCiv
Please remove me from your GGG list. It's really interesting but I don't have time to read all of them. Thanks!

Carolyn

17 posted on 02/18/2007 3:54:01 AM PST by CDHart ("It's too late to work within the system and too early to shoot the b@#$%^&s."--Claire Wolfe)
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To: eeman

Again, that would be the "playoffs". However, there were a LOT of venues in the Roman Empire, so I imagine that fatalities out in the "'nabes" would either be local boys who wanted to fight each other; or who wanted a crack at "the big time", against a professional gladiator; or condemned prisoners.

But once you hit the major cities, or Rome itself, things got a lot more complicated. You had animal fights, and human-animal fights, battle re-enactments (including the possibility of naval battles with the coliseum flooded!), fighting executions, races, etc.

I also suspect that though most gladiators didn't last long, the majority were put out with injuries. The fighters themselves wouldn't be too keen about most matches ending in a kill.


18 posted on 02/18/2007 6:50:38 AM PST by Popocatapetl
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To: Ciexyz

Hit him again! Hit him again! Harder! Harder!

Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ça change [Frog for: The arena is different, but rednecks are forever]


19 posted on 02/18/2007 8:12:52 AM PST by wildbill
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To: Grizzled Bear

Wee, they could at least have beer and Clydesdales.


20 posted on 02/18/2007 8:20:21 AM PST by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
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To: wildbill
"Getcha hot ribs and chicken wings here!"

We know they drank wine and beer regularly since the water was so contaminated. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that maybe they had liquid refreshments at these events.

21 posted on 02/18/2007 11:02:19 AM PST by mass55th (Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway~~John Wayne)
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To: eeman
There officials slit the man's throat...

I thought they got the old hammer on the noggin treatment. That would have been quicker -- WHACK!

22 posted on 02/18/2007 11:16:15 AM PST by Max in Utah (WWBFD? "What Would Ben Franklin Do?")
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To: wildbill

I bet they had their version of the Terrible Towel.


23 posted on 02/18/2007 7:45:01 PM PST by Ciexyz (Amazing Grace the film, in theaters Feb 23rd, about abolishing slave trade in Britain.)
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