Monday, June 07, 2010

Gladiator Graves in York

Saw this on CNN and wondered, "How do they know the dead are gladiators?"

Several clues, notably ONE body with a bite mark from what could have been a lion, tiger, or bear. Other bodies had hammer blows to the head, or were even decapitated. Some sites say all the bodies were decapitated but it's not clear.

Eighty bodies so far, all seeming to be athletic, fit males, taller than average, many with strong right arms. They date to around 1600 to 1900 years ago--the time of Rome's control of Britain. Although the NPR story narrowed it down to the between the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Some of the graves had pottery or meat joints (from horses, sheep, and chicken) in them.

None of which proves that the graves are those of gladiators, but that's a reasonable guess. And something else worth mentioning--no cemetery of gladiators has ever been found before.

Scientists have been studying them for seven years, but keeping it secret. Sneaky scientists! (OK, actually, I applaud them.) And the lead archaeologist...I do not named Dr. Hunter-Mann. Now that is karmic.

The York Archaeological Trust will launch a website about the cemetery June 14--the same day that a documentary on the find will be released in Britain. Hope it'll be shown here soon too.

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