“Fat” Gladiators: Modern Misconceptions Regarding the Dietary Practices of Swordsmen of the Ancient Roman Arena

The old vegan Gladiator debate, finally an article that clears it all up, excellently, in my opinion anyways.

Out of This Century

Article by David Black Mastro

In the November/December ’08 issue of Archeology magazine, author Andrew Currey covered the recent findings by paleo-pathologist Karl Grossschmidt of Vienna, concerning the diet of ancient Roman gladiators. Grossschmidt and his colleague, Fabian Kanz, examined the bones of gladiators from a site in Western Turkey. Currey wrote:

But the biggest revelation to come out of the Ephesus cemetery is what kept the gladiators alive–a vegetarian diet rich in carbohydrates, with the occasional calcium supplement.  Contemporary accounts of gladiator life sometimes refer to the warriors as hordearii–literally, “barley men.” Grossschmidt and collaborator Fabian Kanz subjected bits of the bone to isotopic analysis, a technique that measures trace chemical elements such as calcium, strontium, and zinc, to see if they could find out why. They turned up some surprising results. Compared to the average inhabitant of Ephesus, gladiators ate more plants and very little animal…

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