Trainee gladiators change library for sand pit in Austria

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Wearing nothing but a loincloth, history student David Vogelbacher stood in an ancient amphitheatre near Vienna on a recent morning, sparred with a sword and went about learning a new occupation - gladiator.

He and 19 other students have embarked on an experimental archaeology project in the former Roman city of Carnuntum near the Austrian capital, in an effort to find out how these fighters trained and battled in their bloody spectacles.

The group of young men from Regensburg University in Germany has set up camp at Carnuntum for two weeks in August, living in tents without beds or other comforts.

A team of archaeologists, sports scientists and psychologists want to measure how their training changes their bodies, and whether it has an effect on their aggression levels.

After the sparring exercises in hot sunlight on a recent morning, the students started lifting logs to gain strength. Most of them had little in common with the muscular he-men depicted in films like the 2000 hit Gladiator.

'I haven't done any sports for the past eight years,' said Vogelbacher, who is slim and wears dark long dreadlocks and a beard.

But gladiators in the ancient Roman empire came in various shapes and sizes, depending on the roles that they played in the games of the ancient Roman empire.
Equipped with a short curved sword and metal helmet, Vogelbacher is training to become a so-called Thracian....

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