Media (and history) has mis-represented gladiators

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north2alaska

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Forgive me if that has been discussed before. In doing some quick research for a story I'm writing I came across an interesting archaeological and anthropological study. Apologies if this isn't the right discussion board.

You and I are probably used to Russel Crowe's Gladiator-esque fighters - rippling muscles and the image of human perfection.

But reality does not seem to be the same. According to a study of 2,000 year old remains from a group of medical anthropologists at the Medical University of Vienna

The evidence suggests gladiators carbo-loaded. They ate a diet high in carbohydrates, such as barley and beans, and low in animal proteins. Their meals looked nothing like the paleo or meat-and-fish centric diets now associated with elite warriors and athletes. The layer of fat allowed them to withstand injuries better, as their organs and nerve endings would be protected and they also would bleed more from superficial injuries without needing medical attention right away.

The proposed reason that they were often depicted as muscle bound gods was because they were vain and wanted to make up for less than ideal body forms in the real world by running everyone through "photoshop" in the arts.


Thought this was interesting and worth sharing.

Sources:
Gladiator Diets Were Carb-Heavy, Fattening, and Mostly Vegetarian
Ancient Worlds News - Roman gladiators were fat vegetarians - 05/04/2004
 

Tad

Dimensions' loiterer
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The great white north, eh?
Forgive me if that has been discussed before. In doing some quick research for a story I'm writing I came across an interesting archaeological and anthropological study. Apologies if this isn't the right discussion board.

You and I are probably used to Russel Crowe's Gladiator-esque fighters - rippling muscles and the image of human perfection.

But reality does not seem to be the same. According to a study of 2,000 year old remains from a group of medical anthropologists at the Medical University of Vienna

The evidence suggests gladiators carbo-loaded. They ate a diet high in carbohydrates, such as barley and beans, and low in animal proteins. Their meals looked nothing like the paleo or meat-and-fish centric diets now associated with elite warriors and athletes. The layer of fat allowed them to withstand injuries better, as their organs and nerve endings would be protected and they also would bleed more from superficial injuries without needing medical attention right away.

The proposed reason that they were often depicted as muscle bound gods was because they were vain and wanted to make up for less than ideal body forms in the real world by running everyone through "photoshop" in the arts.


Thought this was interesting and worth sharing.

Sources:
Gladiator Diets Were Carb-Heavy, Fattening, and Mostly Vegetarian
Ancient Worlds News - Roman gladiators were fat vegetarians - 05/04/2004
As I understand it, the romans copied Greek sculpture styles to a large degree, and the greeks were big on the chiseled/thin male bodies. So artistic tradition may have trumped accuracy?
 

north2alaska

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As I understand it, the romans copied Greek sculpture styles to a large degree, and the greeks were big on the chiseled/thin male bodies. So artistic tradition may have trumped accuracy?
I think that's what it comes down to, ultimately. Which is a shame - all those gladiator/spartan movies could have been a lot more interesting to watch had they depicted fatter fighters
 

Dr. Feelgood

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There were several types of gladiators, classified according to the type of armor and weapons they bore. Different styles of fighting called for different physical types. The heavily-armed Samnites needed to be muscular to handle the weight of their armor, but the retiarii, who wore no armor and fought with a net and trident, were probably lightweights, since they depended on being able to dodge and outrun their opponents. Something for everyone, in other words.
 

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