Gladiator fights, fights with the Retarius Secutor under the supervision of the fencing master, mosaic in the Roman villa at Nenning in Trier, Germany  /   Kampf der Gladiatoren, Retarius kämpft mit dem Secutor unter Aufsicht des Fechtmeisters, Mosaik in der römischen Villa zu Nenning bei Trier, Deutschland, Historisch, historical, digital improved reproduction of an original from the 19th century / digitale Reproduktion einer Originalvorlage aus dem 19. Jahrhundert,. (Photo by: Bildagentur/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Unexpected Diet Of Ancient Roman Gladiators
By Chris Day
Gladiators were the superathletes of ancient Rome, and it’s easy to think that these endurance warriors sustained themselves with a heavy diet of animal products. However, you may be surprised at what researchers discovered when they examined 2,000-year-old bones of gladiators found in a mass grave in western Turkey.
According to the Archeology Institute of America, besides finding out how these gladiators died and lived, the researchers also found that Roman gladiators had a diet consisting primarily of beans and complex carbs like wheat and barley. This diet earned them the nickname “barley men” and showed little evidence of animal products.
The researchers also discovered that the gladiators had a unique way of quenching thirst and staying hydrated with an ancient sports drink made using charred plants or bone ash mixed with vinegar. The drink provided a significant amount of calcium to their diet, enabling frequently broken bones to heal faster.