Jo Ball completed her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Liverpool (2016). Her research focuses on the archaeology of Ancient Greek and Roman battle, particularly battle site assemblages. She is currently a University Teacher and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, and working on publishing a monograph, The Archaeology of Roman Battle Sites, in 2021. She can usually be found on Twitter.
Gladiatorial contests are often depicted as bloody and brutal battles to the death, with only the most valiant fighters allowed to survive. But how true is this?
Popular portrayals of the gladiatorial games always present the Emperor presiding over them, gesturing with his thumb to offer his judgement: thumbs-up, the defeated gladiator may live; thumbs-down, he should die. But is there any actual evidence to support this image?