Montag, 5. September 2011

Blood and Sand – the life and death of Gladiators in Roman Austria

ludus in Carnuntum - Reconstruction by LBIArchPro
(© M.Klein / 7reasons)
The LBI Institute for Archaeological prospection and virtual archaeology in Vienna has discovered a Roman School of Gladiators at Roman Carnuntum, Austria using geophysical prosepction.

At Roman Carnuntum, one of the largest preserved archaeological landscapes of its type in Europe, the team of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Arcaheological prospection and Virtaula Archaeology (LBIArchPro) used a novel motorized multi-antenna ground penetrating radar to explore interesting features identified on aerial photographs. The suspicious area lay to the west of the amphitheatre, which was built in the first half of the second century AD and excavated from 1923 to 1930. Following survey of this area archaeologists were astounded when the new sensors revealed an extensive building complex interpreted as a school for gladiators (ludus). The Roman amphitheatre at Carnuntum held around 13000 spectators and contemporary inscriptions claimed that it was the fourth largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire and frequently used for gladiatorial games. Despite the extensive excavations surrounding the amphitheatre the area that contained the school of gladiators attracted little attention. Recent analysis of aerial photographs hinted at the existence of a large building west of the amphitheatre.
Detailed images produced by radar give remarkable details of this building complex, which from its ground plan can be identified as the gladiatorial school. Its massive compound enclosed an area of 2800 m² and set at the eastern end of a 11000 m² land parcel surrounded by a wall. In scale the new detected ludus is comparable to the ludus magnus, the great School of Gladiators behind the coliseum (amphitheatrum flavium) in Rome.
Gladiator exhibit in Carnuntum
Gladiatores in Carnuntum 2010
(Foto Max Timchenko [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] bei flickr)
The school buildings were arranged around a central inner court where ground penetrating radar revealed a circular training arena, 19 m in diameter, enclosed by a wooden stand for spectators. The foundations of a 100 m² heated training hall, an extended bath complex, the 300 m² administration and living complex of the owner of the school can be seen in the In contrast, the gladiators appear to have been given cells that were as little as 5 m² in size. The image of this unique building is so clear that water pipes, sewers and the remains of the floor heating system can be seen clearly, along with the access roads to the amphitheatre, entrances and the foundations of mausolea.

The archaeologists believe that they have also located the gladiators’ cemetery, immediately behind a building associated with large grave monuments, stone sarcophagi and other, simpler, graves.

Virtual Archaeology
The sensational image of the newly discovered School of Gladiators, provided by this new technology, is so complete that it has allowed the LBI-ArchPro team to digitally recreate this unique find without digging. The result can be explored by the software Wikitude World Browser, an augmented reality application which visualizes the school of gladiators on your ipad, android, blackberry or symbian device right on site.

press release
German text, here at Archaeologik

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