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Old 06-15-2010, 07:48 PM
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Gladiators Bodies Found In Cemetery In York

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Archaeologists believe that they may have discovered a Roman gladiator cemetery near York city centre. About 80 remains have been found since the investigation began in 2004, with more than half of them decapitated.

Researchers believe they may form part of the world’s only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery.

Kurt Hunter-Mann, a field officer at York Archaeological Trust who is leading the investigation, said: “The skulls were literally found somewhere else in the grave — not on top of the shoulders.

“We could see that in quite a few cases the skulls had been chopped with some kind of heavy bladed weapon, a sword or in one or two cases an axe.

“But they were buried with a degree of care. There are no mass pits. Most of them are buried individually.”

He said that bite marks on one of the skeletons helped to steer the team to its initial theory.

“One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark — probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear — an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context.

“There are not many situations where someone is going to be killed by something like that, and also to have other wounds, and also to be decapitated. They may have been a gladiator involved in beast fights.”

He added: “Other important pieces of evidence include a high incidence of substantial arm asymmetry — a feature mentioned in ancient Roman literature in connection with a gladiator; some healed and unhealed weapon injuries; possible hammer blows to the head — a feature attested as a probable gladiatorial coup de grace at another gladiator cemetery, Ephesus, in Turkey.

“The arm asymmetry would also be consistent with weapons training that had already started in teenage years, and we know from Roman accounts that some gladiators entered their profession at a very young age.”

Most losing gladiators who were put to death were stabbed in the throat. However, decapitation may have been adopted as a custom in York in response to a prevailing local preference, he said.

“At present our lead theory is that many of these skeletons are those of Roman gladiators. So far there are a number of pieces of evidence which point towards that interpretation or are consistent with it.

“But the research is continuing and we must therefore keep an open mind.”

The size and importance of York suggested it might have had an amphitheatre, he said, but so far none has been found.

The skeletons date from the late first century AD to the 4th century AD. Fourteen of them were interred with grave goods to accompany them to the next world.

The team said that the most impressive grave was that of a tall man aged between 18 and 23, buried in a large oval grave some time in the 3rd century.

Interred with him were what appear to have been the remains of substantial joints of meat from at least four horses, possibly consumed at the funeral — plus some cow and pig remains.

He had been decapitated by several sword blows to the neck.

Additional research has also been carried out by forensic anthropologists at the University of Central Lancashire.

Dr Michael Wysocki, senior lecturer in forensic anthropology and archaeology at the university, said: “These are internationally important discoveries. We don’t have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world.”

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:52 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

'Gladiator burial ground' discovered in York

Dozens of skeletons found beneath the garden of a former 18th Century mansion are probably those of professional fighters who fought, and died, for the entertainment of the ruling Romans.

The remains of around 80 people were discovered during building work at a site to the west of the city centre in 2004, but their likely origins are only now being revealed thanks to extensive forensic analysis.

Almost all the corpses are of robust young males, many of whom met their death by decapitation between the late first and fourth centuries AD.

Archaeologists initially suspected that they were Roman soldiers loyal to Emperor Severus who were executed in the bloody aftermath of his traitorous son Caracalla's coup in 211 AD.

But researchers from the York Archaeological Trust, which is leading the investigation, have now discovered tantalising evidence that the men were actually Gladiators brought to Britain from across the Mediterranean to fight at an as-yet-undiscovered amphitheatre.

Kurt Hunter-Mann, a field officer at the trust, said: "One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark - probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear - an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context."

The majority of the men had sustained brutal weapon injuries consistent with gladiatorial combat. Close scrutiny of the skeletons also showed that many of the dead had one arm that was stronger than the other - an indication that they had been trained to use large weapons from a young age


Furthermore, damage sustained by their skulls suggested that some of the men had been killed by a hammer blow to the head, a gladiatorial "coup de grace" for which evidence has also been uncovered at a major Roman graveyard in Ephesus, Turkey.

The researchers have made clear that the gladiator explanation is just their "lead theory" and that more study is required. But academics have said that the find could put Britain at the forefront of Roman Empire archaeology.

Dr Michael Wysocki, senior lecturer in forensic anthropology and archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire, which helped analyse the bones, said: "These are internationally important discoveries. We don't have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world."

Amphitheatres have been discovered at several old Roman settlements across England, including Chester and Cirencester, although not in York.

Some Roman amphitheatres were made from wood, meaning their locations may never be identified.

Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and an expert in ancient history, cautioned that alternative explanations for the identities of the York bodies deserved further investigation, but said that the find was "very exciting stuff".

He said: "If you have decapitations there's something pretty remarkable about the burials. These are not ordinary people who have had ordinary deaths."

Prof Wallace-Hadrill added that advances in modern pathology were throwing new light on historical remains.

"Skeletons can be incredibly eloquent," he said. "We can now learn so much about the living person from their skeleton - far more than just age and sex."

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:54 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK


Skeleton with displaced skull

During 2004-5 York Archaeological Trust excavated 80 burials in York, in advance of housing developments. The site was part of a large cemetery on the outskirts of the Roman town, across the river from the legionary fortress.

The burials are dated to between the early 2nd century to the late 3rd century, and probably cover most of the period of Roman occupation in northern England (about AD70-410). Almost all are male, and the vast majority are adults – not the usual demographics for a Roman cemetery.

However, despite the evidence for a harsh lifestyle and a violent death, these people had been carefully buried. There was also evidence that funerary feasting had taken place at the cemetery; this often occurred on the anniversary of the death of loved ones.

Were these people gladiators, who were both revered (as superstars) and reviled (as associated with death)? Or were they people who had been executed but given a decent burial? How about soldiers who had died in battle? Or was this evidence of a group of people who had unusual views on religion or burial practises?

A Channel 4 documentary, which will be aired on 14 June, reignites the debate about the skeletons’ origins and follows the lead theory that the remains are those of Roman gladiators. But, as Kurt Hunter Mann, who is leading the research at York Archaeological Trust explains, there is evidence to support other theories, too:

“There are numerous pieces of evidence that point towards or are consistent with the interpretation that the skeletons are Roman gladiators, but there is also other evidence that suggest the individuals could have been soldiers, criminals, or members of a religious cult,” he says.



Kurt Hunter-Mann excavating two skeletons

The Trust will launch a website next week – www.headlessromans.co.uk – presenting all the evidence and inviting members of the public to make up their own minds.

One of the most significant pieces of evidence supporting the ‘gladiator’ conclusion is a large carnivore bite mark – probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear, which archaeologists believe may have been sustained in an arena context.

Other evidence includes a high incidence of substantial arm asymmetry – a feature mentioned in ancient Roman literature in connection with a gladiator; some healed and unhealed weapon injuries; possible hammer blows to the head (a feature attested as a probable gladiatorial coup de grâce at another gladiator cemetery at Ephesus in Turkey).

“An alternative interpretation – that the individuals are soldiers – is potentially undermined by the fact that most of them have been violently decapitated and that one of them has a large carnivore bite mark, almost certainly sustained in an arena context,” says Mr Hunter-Mann.



Above: skeleton with misplaced skull and heavy lead leg-shackles

“Another potential interpretation – that they are all criminals – appears to be undermined by the substantial respect (and grave goods) with which many of them were buried.”

“This is a fascinating discovery that gives a real insight into the world of interpreting archaeology,” says York Archaeological Trust Chief Executive, John Walker.

“With archaeology, you are very rarely dealing in the definite. There are almost always elements of ‘possibly’ and ‘probably’ and the archaeologist’s job is to weigh up the evidence and make an informed judgement on the most likely explanation.”

For your chance to look at the evidence and make your own decision, visit www.headlessromans.co.uk from Monday 14th June. ‘Gladiators: Back From The Dead’ will be shown on Channel 4 on Monday June 14th at 9.00pm.

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:56 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

Excavations at Heslington to the east of York
have unearthed an extensive prehistoric farming
landscape. A skull discovered on the site was
found to contain intact brain tissue – the oldest
surviving human brain found in Britain, dating
to the 6th century BC. The skull is now being
studied by a team of specialists to determine
how it survived and glean any information
about life and death in Iron Age York.
More details in Yorkshire Archaeology Today issues 16, 17

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:58 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

very interesting read

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:59 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

The Hungate site has recently uncovered
the remains of a timber-lined sunken
building similar to those found at the
nearby Coppergate site excavated in
the late 1970s. Timbers from the
Hungate building have been dated
by dendrochronology to the late 960s AD.
Full article will appear in the next issue of
Yorkshire Archaeology Today.

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Old 06-15-2010, 08:00 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

The seal of a horologiarius



Researchers from York Archaeological Trust have identified a remarkable object which shows that around AD 1300 York was at the forefront of science and engineering. The Trust undertook excavations before developers George Houlton and Sons transformed the former York College for Girls in Low Petergate into an award-winning series of luxury apartments, retail units and a restaurant. In contrast, the Trust's archaeologists revealed that in the medieval period the site contained a series of metalworkers' workshops. One of the objects they recovered was a small circular copper-alloy disc. Expert cleaning in YAT's Archaeological Conservation Laboratory has now revealed that one face carries an inscription around its edge, and that the object is therefore a seal matrix that could be impressed into wax to seal documents. It probably dates to around AD 1300. Part of the inscription, in abbreviated Latin, can be read as SIGILLUM ROBERTI HOROLOGIARII DE IERM, and this translates as 'The seal of Robert the clockmaker from ?Yarmouth'.

Clocks were first made in England only a very few years before this seal may have been lost. An itinerant horologiarius is mentioned in the account books of Beaulieu Cistercian Abbey, Hampshire, in 1269-70, and there are records of a clock made by the Augustinian Canons of Dunstable Priory, Bedfordshire, in 1283. In the following few years there are records of other clocks at major English churches – Exeter Cathedral in 1284, St Paul's London in 1286, Merton College Oxford and Norwich Cathedral before 1290, Ely Abbey 1291, Canterbury Cathedral 1292, and Salisbury Cathedral before 1306. York has hitherto been missing from this list, but now it seems possible that Robert the clockmaker may have been engaged upon works in York c.1300. The most likely venue for his skills must be York Minster, although the first references to a clock there do not appear in the surviving documents until much later.

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:05 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

Superb post pink....I don't know if this will work but the program\doc has aired over here....but you can get it online via Channel 4, you made need to use a UK proxy.

Scroll down on the left hand column you'll see the program, click on 4oD and see how you go


http://www.channel4.com/tv-listings/daily/2010/06/14

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:06 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

you may need.........edit^^^^

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:07 PM
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Re: GLADIATORS Bodies Found in Cemetery in YORK

Oh it streaming and FOC btw.

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