A Roman skeleton discovered recently at ‘the world’s only well-preserved gladiator cemetery’ has gone on display in York. The skeleton, one of 80 found in the city over the past seven years, went on show at the Jorvik Viking Centre on Tuesday (June 22) and promises to be a hit with visitors.
The skeleton is one of the dig’s most important, bearing bite marks from a large carnivore. Experts have claimed it as proof gladiators were made to fight wild animals, such as bears and tigers, in the arena. The excavation itself has aroused huge interest across worldwide, and was recently the subject of a Channel 4 documentary on the grisly lives of gladiators in Roman Britain (read a review here).
John Walker, chief executive of York Archaeological Trust, tells York Press the gladiator’s display will allow locals the chance to see archaeology in action: “The skeletons have been the subject of global interest over the last week. We want to give people the opportunity to see for themselves some of the evidence that our archaeologists have worked with to develop their theories on the skeletons origins.”
York, Roman name Eboracum, was an important town close to the edge of the Roman Empire. Though the cemetery’s discovery suggests the existence of an amphitheatre like one beneath London’s Guildhall(watch a video on Roman London here), none such site has been unearthed in York.