The Italian Almanac

new gladiators?

Italian History - March 31

A study conducted by an archaeologist from the University of Miami has revealed that gladiators fought in the amphitheatres in ancient Rome, more for the purpose of displaying their fighting skills, rather than for their lives.

Archaeologist Steve Tuck said gladiatorial combat - which was viewed as a macabre and brutal blood sport centred around killing and shedding blood - was in reality, a form of entertaining martial, which was spectator oriented. "Gladiatorial combat is seen as being related to killing and shedding blood. But, I think that what we are seeing is an entertaining martial art that was spectator-oriented," Tuck said.

To lay credence to his theories, he says that from manuals archived in Germany and Northern Italy, dating back to the Renaissance and the Medieval times, gladiator bouts revolved around three critical moments with the first being the initial contact, with both gladiators, fully armed, moving forwards and going for a body shot.

The second being the one where one gladiator after getting wounded, tries to distance himself from his opponent and the third, when both the gladiators drop their undamaged shields and grapple with each other.

He said the last move, with both the gladiators throwing down their weapons to grapple unarmed with each other was a common way to effectively conclude a fight, without intending to finish off an opponent.