Fight between Hoplomachus (left) and Retiarius (right) gladiators Gladiators were slaves or criminals who were trained to fight one another—often to the death—as the crowds looked on. Gladiatorial contests, called munera, were held in stadiums known as amphitheatres and often attracted huge crowds. An oval-shaped area covered in sand, the arena (from the Latin harena) was surrounded by rows of seats rising around it. Gladiators fought with swords and shields, or with tridents and nets. Different types of gladiators were distinguished by the type of armour or weapons they had.
An aerial view of the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of...Read More >>An aerial view of the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, built to stage gladiatorial contests and other public entertainments. Made of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. It is partially ruined because of damage caused by an earthquake (in 1349) and stone-robbers. The Colosseum in Rome was built in AD 70–80.The amphitheatre was the place where the games were held. Most large Roman towns had one. It was a large stone-built stadium with an oval arena in the middle. The largest was the Colosseum in Rome itself. It could hold up to 50,000 people. Built nearly 2000 years ago, much of the building still stands today.
Modern tests have been done on gladiators' bones, revealing their diet. It is believed that, compared with modern-day athletes, gladiators were probably quite fleshy. This may have had the benefit of protecting their vital organs from cutting blows.
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