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Heads hacked off, a bite from a lion, tiger or bear, massive muscles on massive men -- all clues that an ancient cemetery uncovered in northern England is the final resting place of gladiators, scientists have announced after seven years of investigations.
The archeological dig has found "what may be the world's only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery," the York Archaeological Trust said.
Scientists have found 80 skeletons in the "unique" cemetery under the city of York, northern England, since 2003.
They announced their discoveries on Sunday, ahead of a documentary about the site due to air in Britain on June 14. This was one of two big archaeological developments, with Israeli scientists announcing the discovery of a huge cache of ancient religious objects.
Chester Amphitheatre is a Roman amphitheatre in Chester, Cheshire. The site is managed by English Heritage; it is a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument.
The ruins currently exposed are those of a large stone amphitheatre, similar to those found in Continental Europe, although a smaller wooden amphitheatre may have existed on the site beforehand. Today, only the northern half of the structure is exposed; the southern half is covered by buildings, some of which are themselves listed.
The amphitheatre is the largest so far uncovered in Britain, and dates from the first century, when the Roman fort of Deva Victrix was founded. The amphitheatre would have been primarily for military training and drill, but would also have been used for cock fighting, bull baiting and combat sports, including classical boxing, wrestling and gladiatorial combat.
It turns out that women were a rarity in the male world of gladiators - they would go top of the bill at the Colosseum as a special "treat". So, typically, the female who works in a traditionally male job paid not only with her life (hazard of the job, fair enough) but with her "respectability". Hence, the speculation is, she rose to greatness in the arenas of Europe, and was honored hugely, but, because she was "just" a woman and shouldn't have been seen out in leather armour in front of the jeering masses, she was buried somewhere a little bit out of the spotlight.