oman gladiators are represented throughout history as being the most feared warriors, they always fought for their lives and nothing else. Gladiators were slaves that were forced to fight in order to entertain people. In most of their fights, they would have a handicap that would make the fight unfair for them, but at the same time, this handicap also brought them a challenge that would be appreciated by the crowd.
Ancient historians say that the gladiators enjoyed their job, even if it paid nothing, they were adored by the crowd. It was the idea of being feared by everyone, even if outside of the colosseum they had no power as they were always put in chains after every fight.
A cemetery full of gladiators
In 1993, Austrian archeologists discovered a gladiator cemetery in Efus, Turkey, which had been previously known as the Roman city of Ephesus. Sixty-eight skeletons were found of which sixty-six were proven to be the skeletons of gladiators. The research done on all of these skeletons helped the archeologists to better understand the gladiator’s lifestyles as well as their survival rates.
The first pieces of information that the researchers gathered from the analysis of the skeletons were that most of them died between the ages of twenty and thirty. Without any sort of special analysis, it could be seen that many bones had been broken but healed in time, showing just how brutal their lives were.
From further analysis of the skeletons, researchers discovered that the gladiators had a very developed muscular physique which showed the intensive training they had to perform every day. At the same time, they also had quite a thick layer of fat that would protect their vital organs from devastating blows or slashes. The analyses also tells us that their diet was quite simple, but very healthy, mainly composed of cereals and vegetables.
Most of these analyses confirm the information that is found in the old Roman texts about gladiators. Ancient historians describe that the average life span of a gladiator from the point of becoming a gladiator (becoming a slave warrior) was of around six months.
It wasn’t only the threat from the other gladiators or fighters that they had to kill in order to survive, but other factors that were brought into the colosseum in order to make the battle more entertaining for the crowd. Factors such as lions or other wild animals that would attack them, various traps in which the gladiators would fall, or even carriages with archers on them.
The main battle would have been a “free for all” where the winner would be the only one standing. In some cases, they had other types of battles such as a pristine gladiator going against three or even five warriors at once to not only give the crowd a good show but also to entice betting. The gladiator business was not only a good source of entertainment at the time but also made a lot of profit because of gambling.
Even with so much data, it is difficult to say a number that may represent the chances of survival for gladiators, but it is assumed that eight in ten of all gladiators died within coliseums. There are some legends stating that if a gladiator would have survived many battles or for a long period of time, they would be offered freedom.