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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 4:36 pm    Post subject: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

I just got my latest issue of Archaeology magazine (November/December 2008) and in it is an article I thought would be interesting to some of you. It describes findings from analysis of skeletons from the only known gladiator cemetery (in present western Turkey). The whole article is not available on the web but good exerpts of it are at:

http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/gladiator.html

Among some interesting stuff is that gladiators ate a vegetarian diet, might have been fat to protect muscles and blood vessels and drank special brews containing calcium resulting in super strong bones. There is also discussion of wounds and weapons by which they died.

It's my understanding not much is actually known about Roman gladiators (forget Hollywood!) so I thought this would be of interest.
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Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 7:30 pm    Post subject: Re: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

Thanks for the link. Interesting article....also the image of the trident wound and that strange weapon that looks like four nails with a handle. The article was not clear what that weapon was, and I had never heard of it.



Jan Svejkovsky wrote:
I just got my latest issue of Archaeology magazine (November/December 2008) and in it is an article I thought would be interesting to some of you. It describes findings from analysis of skeletons from the only known gladiator cemetery (in present western Turkey). The whole article is not available on the web but good exerpts of it are at:

http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/gladiator.html

Among some interesting stuff is that gladiators ate a vegetarian diet, might have been fat to protect muscles and blood vessels and drank special brews containing calcium resulting in super strong bones. There is also discussion of wounds and weapons by which they died.

It's my understanding not much is actually known about Roman gladiators (forget Hollywood!) so I thought this would be of interest.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Oct, 2008 3:47 am    Post subject: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

Some years ago I watched one documentary on gladiators' lives. It also mentions the food they eat and the yet unnamed four-pointed dagger that crippled one of them.
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Douglas S





Joined: 18 Feb 2004

Posts: 177

PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"Gladiators needed subcutaneous fat," Grossschmidt explains. "A fat cushion protects you from cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight."

Sounds like Grossschmidt was eating too many croissants himself. Wink

That's probably not why the gladiators were fed barley bread and beans. I recall reading (somewhere!) that the Romans had superstitions regarding this diet.
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Grayson C.




Location: NCF, Sarasota, FL
Joined: 25 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
Quote:
"Gladiators needed subcutaneous fat," Grossschmidt explains. "A fat cushion protects you from cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight."

Sounds like Grossschmidt was eating too many croissants himself. Wink

That's probably not why the gladiators were fed barley bread and beans. I recall reading (somewhere!) that the Romans had superstitions regarding this diet.


I imagine the sulfuric smell might havesomething to do with the superstition Laughing Out Loud
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Oct, 2008 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cheap food, I suspect.

As for the calcium brew, I thought you didn't absorb calcium past like 17 years of age?

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Jan Svejkovsky




Location: San Diego
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue 14 Oct, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep eating your calcium! One loses calcium constantly - women more than men, which is why older women are supposed to take extra calcium supplements in old age to prevent bone loss. I think it's amazing that the Romans were aware of this human nutritional need.

On another topic, what do you guys make of the 4-pointed dagger that one of the burried gladiators got shoved into his knee? Obviously, if you make your opponent unable to stand, he's toast in the arena. But to get so close (and low) as to jab that weapon into a guy's knee seems pretty risky. I imagine that weapon wouldn't do much deep damage against the chest or similar targets, so was it actually designed to strike against the leg or elbow?
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Oct, 2008 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jan Svejkovsky wrote:
Keep eating your calcium! One loses calcium constantly - women more than men, which is why older women are supposed to take extra calcium supplements in old age to prevent bone loss. I think it's amazing that the Romans were aware of this human nutritional need.



And weight bearing exercise also promotes greater bone density assuming that enough calcium is ingested.

This is mostly a longterm thing like training with heavy weights for years at a time and not something one can do by lifting 500 pounds and take a calcium supplement as a one time thing: It's just that the bones adapt over long periods of time by becoming denser to the strain and stresses of heavy work.

Same thing with archery with heavy draw bows or rowing etc ... the bone structure of people doing these activities change and can be seen on X-rays.

The Roman probably where aware of this on en empirical basis.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Oct, 2008 5:32 am    Post subject: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

These were what the gladiators eat and drink:
A fermented bread made of Farro (a famous cereal in Rome) and a soup made of that cereal and orzo were the base for the carbo and amids.
High protein sources derived from roasted meat, dry fruits, fresh cheese, goat milk and eggs.
Onions, garlic and wild lettuce were also eaten.
For strength and stamina, gladiators eat barley. Anethum graveolens is also eaten.
Goat milk with honey and walnuts, their own version of energy snack.
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 12:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the general subject of why a gladiator might want to be fat....



If you are fat, and you get cut on a little, you'll bleed, and if you bear it well, the crowd will think you are brave and romanly and spare you. If you are thin, they might so the same, but that cut might be harder to recover from.

So if you have alot of extra flesh between your 'harder to heal parts' and the other guy's sword, you can be injuried and give the crowd a nice show of blood without 'really' being injured. Which isn't to say it was ever a sure thing, but I imagine it might have helped.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Douglas S





Joined: 18 Feb 2004

Posts: 177

PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2008 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we have any empirical data on whether it's harder to kill fat gladiators than skinny?
And what's your source on that diet, Shahril?
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Oct, 2008 8:07 pm    Post subject: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

Douglas, I got it here -
http://www.romegiftshop.com/gladiatorsdiet.html
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Douglas S





Joined: 18 Feb 2004

Posts: 177

PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: What Gladiators ate and other interesting finds         Reply with quote

Shahril Dzulkifli wrote:
Douglas, I got it here -
http://www.romegiftshop.com/gladiatorsdiet.html

Thanks!
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2009 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey,

On the whole "Bone ash drink" thing.... we don't have a recipe do we? It's not written somewhere "And they shall drink this, which you make this way," somewhere is it? I know there is atleast one cookbook surviving from the roman period....

And ya know, this might make a heck of a calcium suppliment... if it doesn't give you cancer.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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