Roman Gladiator School Discovered in Austria Using Ground Penetrating Radar

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An international team of archaeologists, geophysicists and computer specialists from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological

A virtual view of the gladiator school

A virtual view of the gladiator school

Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI-ArchPro) based in Vienna, Austria, is using non-invasive technology to see archaeological remains hidden beneath the soil in unprecedented detail.

The interdisciplinary team has discovered a unique Roman building complex at Roman Carnuntum, 20 km east of Vienna, Austria. The find sheds new light on the lives of Roman gladiators in the provinces along the Danube.

The LBI-ArchPro team’s work attracted worldwide attention last year when it located a

perviously unknown wooden henge just 900 meters from the stone circle at Stonehenge. In Norway and Sweden, the team used ground penetrating radar to locate burial mounds and settlements dating from the Viking Age.

At the Roman Carnuntum site, one of the largest preserved archaeological landscapes of its type in Europe, the team used a

Boden ground penetrating radar made it possible to create detailed images of the previously undiscovered gladiator school.

Boden ground penetrating radar made it possible to create detailed images of the previously undiscovered gladiator school. The radar unit is attached to a four-wheel drive Kobuto tractor commonly used for farming.

motorized multi-antenna ground penetrating radar to explore features identified on aerial photos. The study area lay to the west of the amphitheater, constructed during the first half of the second century AD, and excavated from 1923 to 1930. Following survey of this area archaeologists were astounded when the new sensors revealed an extensive building complex believed to be as a gladiator school.

The Roman amphitheater at Carnuntum could seat about 13,000 spectators. Contemporary inscriptions claim it was the fourth largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire, and frequently hosted gladiatorial games.

 

Despite the extensive excavations surrounding the amphitheater, the area containing the gladiator school attracted little attention. The first clues that an important building was buried here came from recent analysis of aerial photographs.

A digital rendering of the gladiator school adjacent to the 13,000-seat coliseum, the 4th largest in 2nd Century ACE Roman Empire

A digital rendering of the gladiator school adjacent to the 13,000-seat coliseum, the 4th largest in 2nd Century ACE Roman Empire

The photographs showed a main road leading from the town towards the amphitheater with buildings containing shops and inns (taberna) on the eastern side. The western side seemed to have no structures. However, some photographs hinted at a large building on the site.

The LBI-ArchPro team investigated the shadowy traces using a high-resolution ground penetrating radar system that covered the area in a few hours. The exceptional building is almost unique in the Roman Empire for its size and completeness, according to the LBI-ArchPro team.

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