Posted: 11/15/2010


       Most of you saw the mega movie GLADIATOR from Ridley Scott at least once,with Russell Crowe as Maximus, and the training camp for gladiators and the 'contests' filmed in the Moroccan desert and in The Colisseum in Rome(well,in a studio). Made in 2000, it won 5 Oscars including Best Picture.

      Well, I am in one of my favourite cities with lots of history for the last 2,000 years, YORK, which was called YORVIK when the Vikings arrived in the 13th Century. However, from about 46 AD until 410 AD The Romans came to Britain and York, plus London, Chester, Bath, Colchester, St Albans and more have rich Roman histories. York was founded as a military base on the way to what is now Scotland in AD 71 by Emperor Vespasian and was called EBORACUM and grew rapidly on the banks of the River Ouse.

      Earlier this summer on one of the many excavations or 'digs', that the professionals and even tourists can take part in, they uncovered about 80 skeletons which are thought to be young gladiators that fought for their lives and to their deaths in York. The skeletons are interesting in that they show beheadings, knife cuts and other injuries sustained 'entertaining' the Romans and the locals.

       The excavations are in Driffield Terrace under the direction of the York Archaeological Trust, and I saw one of the skeletons yesterday on display at the Yorvic exhibition. The rest are not yet open to the public since the excavations are in their early stages.  Many of the bones in the sword arm are much longer than the arm that held the shield, due to the intense training.

       First into the arenas were usually the EQUITES or horsemen on white horses and light weapons. There were The PROVOCATORES or challengers with visored helmets, leg protection(a greave) and breastplates. The THRAEX from Thrace with breastplates and large rectangular shields, and short curved sword or sica.  The RETIARIUS are the fighters with a trident and  a net.  Then the GLADIATORS fighting each other, or lions, tigers and bears. What fun!

        AVE, IMPERATOR, MORITURI TE SALUTAMUS (as I learned in Latin class at school). Hail, Emperor, we who are about to die salute you.

       Outside the magnificent York Minster is a statue of one of the Roman Emporers who lived in Eboracum, and who was pronounced Emperor Constantine 1 when his father died in Eboracum in 207 AD. His real name was Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus who had been born in present day NIS, Serbia. He was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and his seated statue can be seen outside York Minster on Deansgate.

     in 313 AD he issued the Edict of Milan proclaiming religious tolerance for Christians throught the Empire. He was also responsible for making the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire named CONSTANTINOPLE, for the next 1,000 plus years.