Ancient Discovery: Archaeologists Find Rare Sketches of Gladiators Fighting in Pompeii

Their names are long gone; their bodies as well — covered in the ash dumped on Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

But drawings that children made on the wall of a courtyard in the ancient Roman Empire city have been uncovered recently, according to the Telegraph.

The drawings were made with pieces of charcoal, with experts guessing the children who drew them would have been between 5 and 7 years old.

The artwork consists of stick figures showing two gladiators facing each other. The fighters are armed with swords and shields.

The sketch also includes two of what are known as “bestiarii.” These were professional hunters who performed animal shows for the public. The drawing shows two men prodding hairy creatures with lances. Archaeologists believe the animals to have been wild boars.


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The head of a bird of prey also appears on the wall.

A separate drawing is what appears to be a boxing match. One man appears to have knocked out his opponent.

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The wall also has a drawing that outlines three very small hands.

Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said: “In all likelihood, the drawings of the gladiators and the hunters were based on direct experience rather than pictures.

“One or more of the children who once played in the courtyard, between the kitchens, latrines and the vegetable gardens, would have seen fights in the amphitheater, coming into contact with an extreme form of violence which may have also included the execution of criminals and slaves. The drawings show us the impact of these images on a child of a tender age.”

Zuchtriegel said the stick figures are much like those that children draw today.


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Workers also have uncovered a drawing of hooded child with a dog at his feet. That was found at a house dubbed the “House of the Painters at Work,” according to Reuters.

As a reminder of the fate of Pompeii, the skeletons of an elderly man and woman were discovered at the front of the house, leading to the theory that they sought refuge from the Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption and died there.

The Independent noted that recently, researchers at Pompeii found a black-walled dining area that included paintings of legends from the Trojan War.

The hall features a mosaic floor and would have been used for entertaining, Zuchtriegel said.

He said walls were blackened to eliminate smoke from oil lamps from being seen.

Mythological figures Helen of Troy and Apollo were painted on the walls.


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