Archaeologists discover remains of a Roman gladiator school in Austria
Last updated at 7:36 PM on 5th September 2011British archaeologists were among a team who have discovered the ruins of a Roman gladiator school on the
outskirts of the Austrian capital Vienna.
The find, which has been described as 'one in a million' and 'sensational', is one of 100 hundred such schools the Romans built to train the fighters before they were pitted against each other in brutal combat.
The Brits were among an international team of historians, geologists and archaeologists from the Ludwig Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna.
Mock-up: A virtual video presentation shows the
Roman gladiator school discovered by underground radar on the outskirts
Rare find: The school, which contains sleeping cells, a bathing area, a training hall with heated floors and a
cemetery, is the only one of its type to have been discovered outside Italy
Ground penetrating radar was used to identify the school at a Roman park called Carnuntum which is
the site of an old settlement containing one of the finest amphitheatres ever discovered 40 miles east of Vienna.
The ruins have been mapped by radar but currently remain underground.
Officials say the find rivals the famous Ludus Magnus - the largest of the gladiatorial training schools in Rome - in its structure.
And they say the Austrian site is even more detailed than the well-known Roman ruin, down
to the remains of a thick wooden post in the middle of the training area, which was used as a mock enemy for the aspiring gladiators to attack.
The complex contains
about 40 tiny sleeping cells, a large bathing area, a training hall
with heated floors and assorted administrative buildings.
Outside the walls, radar scans show what archeologists believe was a cemetery for those killed during training.
Lower Austrian provincial Governor Erwin Proell said: 'This is a world sensation, in the true meaning of the word.'
team hope to unearth a wealth of artefacts including body armour,
weapons, eating utensils and money from the site where warriors trained
and lived 2,000 years ago.
Intact: The archaeologists say they have
discovered a main training area including the remains of a wooden post
which was used as a mock enemy for the trainee gladiators to attack
Hollywood heroes: Russell Crowe in the 2001 film Gladiator and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus from 1960
It is the first Gladiatorial school to be discovered outside of Italy: other famous ones include those at Capua and Ravenna.
A spokesman said that imaging equipment showed the structures still to be excavated as having the similar building hallmarks to the Collisseum and the Ludus Magnus gladiatorial ampitheatre, both in Rome.
Carnuntum was the capital of the Roman province Pannonia which stretched over parts of what is now Austria, Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Caesar Augustus was the Roman emperor at the time of the gladiatorial school some 27 years before and 14 years after the birth of Christ.
It was the site of the standing HQ of the XV Legion Apollinaris.
It is understood the cells were the gladiators lived at Carnuntum have been discovered and are typically arranged in barrack formation around a central practice arena.
Virtual video presentations of the former Carnuntum gladiator school showed images of the ruins underground that morphed into what the complex may have looked like in the third century.
A spokesman for the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, one of the institutes involved in finding and evaluating the discovery said: 'A gladiator school was a mixture of a barracks and a prison, kind of a high-security facility.
'The fighters were often convicted criminals, prisoners-of-war, and usually slaves.'
The main courtyard is ringed by living quarters and other buildings and contains a round, 19-square meter training area - a small stadium overlooked by wooden seats and the terrace of the chief trainer.
The institute believes the training area was where the men's 'market value and in end effect their fate' was decided.
Carnuntum park head Franz Hume added: 'If they were successful, they had a chance to advance to 'superstar' status - and maybe even achieve freedom.'
Vicious: Gladiators were often convicted criminals, prisoners-of-war or slaves. They lived on a high-energy, vegetarian diet combining barley, boiled beans, oatmeal, ash believed to help fortify the body
Gladiators took their name from the Latin word gladius, for sword. Some were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the arena.
Most were slaves, schooled under harsh conditions and socially marginalised.
Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered audiences an example of Rome's martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim.
They were celebrated in art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.
The games reached their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD, and they persisted not only throughout the social and economic crises of the declining Roman state but even after Christianity became the official
religion in the 4th century AD.
Christian emperors continued to sponsor such entertainments until at least the late 5th century AD, when the last known gladiator games took place.
They existed on a high-energy, vegetarian diet combining barley, boiled beans, oatmeal, ash - believed to help fortify the body- and dried fruit.