Most of Roman gladiators were overweight vegetarians who lived on barley and beans, says a research.health and fitness Updated: Mar 03, 2004 17:08 IST
A scientific study of a recently discovered Roman gladiators graveyard has concluded that most of them were overweight vegetarians who lived on barley and beans.
The graveyard containing the bones of over 70 gladiators, one of the largest ever, was found near Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor (Turkey's western coast).
According to a report in The Telegraph, the dietary findings of the scientists from the University of Vienna may have finally altered the traditional Hollywood image of these gladiators being macho carnivores with the physique of boxers and may give vegetarians a new, harder image.
"They got enough of this food (barley and beans) every day to make them very fat and strong," Karl Grossschmidt, a forensic anthropologist, was quoted as saying.
Concluding that it was a boring diet, he says that it was devised primarily to protect themselves from slashing wounds and damage to nerves and blood vessels, with the layer of fat supplementing their scant armour.
Dr. Grossschmidt further noticed from the bone analysis that contrary to the normal effects of intensive training, the gladiators put on weight before a fight rather than lost it.
However, stereotype vegetarians may be a touch unhappy to note that the gladiators did not wear sandals, but fought barefoot.
Details of this discovery and study will be shown in a forthcoming documentary on Channel Five on March 10.