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The archeological discovery of a gladiator school in Austria has revealed many details about their daily lives.
Discovered at the site of Carnuntum outside Vienna, Austria, the gladiatorial school, or ludus gladiatorius, is the first one discovered outside the city of Rome. Now hidden beneath a pasture, the gladiator school was entirely mapped with noninvasive earth-sensing technologies. The discovery, reported Tuesday evening by the journal Antiquity, makes clear what sort of lives these famous ancient warriors led during the second century A.D. in the Roman Empire. “It was a prison; they were prisoners,” says University of Vienna archaeologist Wolfgang Neubauer, who led the study team. “They lived in cells, in a fortress with only one gate out.” The discovery shows that even outside Rome gladiators were “big business,” Neubauer says. At least 80 gladiators, likely more, lived in the large, two-story facility equipped with a practice arena in its central courtyard. The site also included heated floors for winter training, baths, infirmaries, plumbing, and a nearby graveyard. …
“They weren’t killed very often, they were too valuable,” Neubauer says. “Lots of other people were likely killed at the amphitheater, people not trained to fight. And there was lots of bloodshed. But the combat between gladiators was the point of them performing, not them killing each other.”
The article unfortunately doesn’t explain the last quote. If the gladiator battles did not end in death — as movies portray them — what then was the nature of their performances?