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Feb 28, 2014 03:16 PM EST

First Gladiator School Ever Found Outside Of Rome


Some parts of the gladiator shows that would take place in ancient Rome and surrounding areas were meant to kill their human participants, but those unfortunate victims weren't usually gladiators. Gladiators, trained in schools and separated from common prisoners, weren't meant to die but entertain. If too many were killed, it would eventually detract from future performances.

A study published in the journal, Antiquity, documented the first gladiator school ever found outside of Rome, National Geographic reported.

"They weren't killed very often, they were too valuable," University of Vienna archaeologist  and study leader Wolfgang Neubauer told Nat Geo. "Lots of other people were likely killed at the amphitheater, people not trained to fight. And there was lots of bloodshed. But the combat between gladiators was the point of them performing, not them killing each other."

Using "non-invasive earth sensors," researchers were able to create a digital representation of the facility, according to Nat Geo. Their computer rendering revealed a large courtyard bordered on all sides by columns of motel-style housing. In the courtyard was a small arena for practicing. They didn't, however, travel like a circus as depicted in the movie "Gladiator," but performed in the local stadium.

Also unlike "Gladiator," the warriors didn't work together, for they might one day find themselves in a battle with a friend.

"They weren't a team," Neubauer said "Each one was on his own, training to fight, and learning who they would combat at a central post we can see the remains of in our survey." 

Even if its accommodation were likely more comfortable than prisons, the training facility was still a prison, with one way out and in.

"It was a prison; they were prisoners," said Neubauer. "They lived in cells, in a fortress with only one gate out."

That such a place existed outside Rome demonstrates the "big business" aspect of gladiator shows, according to Neubauer.

"The find at Carnuntum gives us a vivid impression of what it was like to live and train as a gladiator on the chilly northern border of the Roman Empire," said gladiator expert Kathleen Coleman of Harvard (not part of the study).

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