True Gladiator

Using evidence from recent archaeological digs and dramatic reconstructions, scientists explore the real lives of the legendary Roman gladiators.


The blood of Roman gladiators kept an empire entertained for over 500 years, and the brutal legends of how they fought and killed still spellbind us today. But from Hollywood movies to the small screen, legend has concealed the truth. Now for the first time, the bones of gladiators have been excavated and identified. In this documentary a team of forensic scientists analyse their skeletons, expose the myths and resurrect the life of a real gladiator, Palumbus.

Led by Dr Karl Grossschmidt of Vienna University, this team is applying advanced scientific techniques to shed light on the lives of these extraordinary men. Drawing on his research, this documentary uses painstakingly constructed dramatisations and state of the art computer graphics to bring the ancient city of Ephesus back to life, re-enact the frenzy of the arena, and tell the incredible story of a true gladiator. The story of gladiators is more than just the story of a Colosseum, the blood-thirst of emperors, and fate dictated by the turn of a thumb. Gladiators were ordinary people whose fate was to die in an extraordinary time.

From the award-winning documentary team behind 'The Assassination of King Tut', this film rebuilds the story of the real gladiator Palumbus’ life and unearths the reality that history and Hollywood forgot.


1 x 52 mins


Ancient Worlds, Special


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