Mon. 7th June: Gladiators in York!

I just love the way archaeology can tell us new things. A huge find in York, of more than 80 skeletons, has brought to light evidence of a man who was killed by a large cat. Many of the menĀ also hadĀ longer right arms than left, proof that they entered gladiatorial training in their early teens. Take that, the people who emailed me to say that Romulus was too young to be sold into a ludus! I had some proof before hand, but this makes it concrete. Read a great article in the Independent about it here. Watch a documentary about it on Channel 4 on the 14th of June too.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted 7 June 2010 at 17:56 | Permalink

    So the beast of Bodmin was alive and roaming far & wide back in roman times? (grin) any idea what sort of Big cats were around back then?
    Re gladiators: have you watched spartacus? the first few episodes have to be put up with but i found after that it got quite good, even with the 300 style blood letting.

  2. benkane
    Posted 8 June 2010 at 08:09 | Permalink

    Hi Parmenion
    They used lions, leopards and even tigers (none from Bodmin I don’t think!).
    I’ve seen the first two episodes on Starz, the US channel, and am looking forward to seeing more. It’s wat over the top stuff, and the gear is a mix of all 7 centuries of Rome, but I enjoyed it. Lucy Lawless in a state of undress was nothing to do with it!

  3. Posted 8 June 2010 at 08:32 | Permalink

    Tigers is some impressive stuff, when i was in florida last year @ busch Gardens i got to tug of war with a young tiger, along with 4 other adults and the tiger won hands down. Those things are bloomin powerful. anyone with the guts to go head to head with then are either brave beyond compare or bonkers.
    And add to that the blokes who had to capture and transport them….all the way to the UK.

  4. benkane
    Posted 8 June 2010 at 09:06 | Permalink

    Brave beyond compare, and most didn’t have a choice about whether they did or not. Well, they did, I suppose, but it would have been a cross or similar if they’d refused!

  5. Posted 8 June 2010 at 18:29 | Permalink

    Does that not come back to the argument about Gladiators being a just a punishment or a vocation as well? was the gladiator just a slave? or was he also someone who saw it as a way of life a way to become famous and wealthy. I suppose that would introduce levels of gladiators, cannon fodder v’s stars?

  6. benkane
    Posted 9 June 2010 at 08:39 | Permalink

    Well, it’s not really an argument, as far as I know. It’s fairly well accepted that while some men volunteered to become gladiators (to become famous and wealthy as you say), most did not. They were mostly prisoners of war, or slaves, who would have not chosen to be there if they’d had a choice!

  7. PaulfromEboracum
    Posted 26 June 2010 at 16:59 | Permalink

    Aaah- my time in Eboracum. A city, as you know, on the edge always between North and South. The walls are evidence of the danger in Roman times, and later, and the layout of the city is typical of the Roman era.But so near to areas that Rome failed to conquer. Siezed by the Vikings and loved by them, second City for the Church of England, birthplace of Guido, home of the seat of quaker reformation of social values. Come on, Ben, the next novel has got to be based in the crown of Cities hasn’t it -and I’m sure it wouldn’t be heavy.

  8. benkane
    Posted 28 June 2010 at 21:10 | Permalink

    Hmmmm…food for thought there! So many time periods from Rome that I want to write about…

  9. Posted 30 June 2010 at 20:32 | Permalink

    Isnt there also some fun in that you can shoot any scotsman with a bow and arrow within the city walls….funny ole Gordon Brown never visited???

  10. benkane
    Posted 30 June 2010 at 21:23 | Permalink

    Is that true?! I’m not surprised old Gord didn’t pop in, then. It’s rather an appealing image – enraged York residents taking pot shots at him with bows!
    Going back to the ‘gladiator’ find, tonight I listened to a member of the York Archaeological Trust (YAT) talking about it on Radio Leeds. As I thought after the programme, the evidence is circumstantial rather than definite. But TV producers want drama and exposes, not ‘well, it might well be such and such, but we’re not totally sure’. What is definite is that these men died violently, and were buried with honour. It points towards them being gladiators, in my opinion.

  11. Posted 2 July 2010 at 18:12 | Permalink

    Its one of those ancients laws Ben that was never repealed, it dates back to Willam Wallace attacking York (i think), and the feudal laws of the time period. I understand there were so many that many just got missed.
    Techincally its superceded by the laws against murder and GBH so your legal case might be a little thin…but it makes for a great image.

  12. PaulfromEboracum
    Posted 3 July 2010 at 05:49 | Permalink

    The bit about the scotsman may or may not be true but it is certainly well down amongst Yorkies. I used to share a house in my student days just outside the walls with a feisty Glaswegian and, as our favourite pub, the Spread Eagle, was just inside the walls we used to have a lot of fun with that old tale.

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