Glaiators Were Vegetarians
Tom Leonard, in the Daily Telegraph (March 2, 2004):
ROMAN gladiators were overweight vegetarians who lived on barley and beans, according to a scientific study of the largest gladiator graveyard discovered.
Analysis of the bones of more than 70 gladiators recently found near Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor, puts paid to traditional Hollywood images of macho carnivores with the physique of boxers.
The dietary findings of the scientists from the University of Vienna are detailed in a forthcoming documentary on Channel Five. They may give vegetarians a new, harder image.
But the vegetarian stereotype is shattered by the finding that gladiators did not wear sandals but fought in bare feet.
The mass autopsy at the graveyard site on the western coast of Turkey has challenged assumptions that gladiator training was almost as brutal as the contests.
Ancient Roman mosaics depict gladiators as stocky, heavy men but historians have tended to assume this was a tribute to their macho image rather than a literal depiction of their size....
Karl Grossschmidt, a forensic anthropologist at Vienna University, used chemical testing on the bones to reveal that gladiators stuck to a diet of barley and beans to bulk out.
It was a boring diet, he admitted. "They got enough of this food every day to make them very fat and strong," he said. He concluded that they devised the diet primarily to protect themselves from slashing wounds and damage to nerves and blood vessels, with the layer of fat supplementing their scant armour. Dr Grossschmidt noticed from the bone analysis that, contrary to the normal effects of intensive training, the gladiators put on weight before a fight rather than lost it.
Bone samples were subjected to chemical analysis. While a normal meat and vegetable diet will show balanced levels of zinc and strontium, the gladiators' bones were very high in strontium and low in zinc - another indication of vegetarianism.
comments powered by Disqus
bobby chan - 8/12/2004
channl 5 where can i get a copy of that documentery ??
- Priests race to save manuscripts from jihadists in Iraq
- Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees
- Conflict Uncovers a Ukrainian Identity Crisis Over Deep Russian Roots
- Heirs Claim Bank Made Off with Nazi-Looted Art
- Add the University of Virginia to the list of universities actively confronting their association with slavery
- Stanley Kutler’s book on Nixon Watergate abuses has been turned into a show on the web
- China bans books by pro-Hong Kong historian who retired from Princeton
- Fordham Historian Lambasts ‘Shabby Treatment’ In Row Over Israel Boycott, Vows to Continue Fighting Anti-Semitism
- George Mason's digital history program is 20 years old -- and celebrating
- Watergate researchers can now see the materials — including tapes — Len Colodny used in writing "Silent Coup"