Problems with “Gladiator diet” rhetoric

  1. they were slaves, restricted diet
  2. they were poor, no choice in diet
  3. they were often diseased, multiple
  4. they’re studying the ones bad at the job, enough to die
  5. there’s no such thing as one gladiator, they weren’t even mostly male.

Gladiators in practice wanted to put on a little fat at least to protect the major organs from spears and knives. Do not carry modern Ho-wood assumptions to the ancient world.

The gladiator cemetery discovered in Ephesus (Turkey) in 1993 dates to the 2nd and 3rd century AD. The aim of this study is to reconstruct diverse diet, social stratification, and migration of the inhabitants of Roman Ephesus and the distinct group of gladiators. Stable carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur isotope analysis were applied, and inorganic bone elements (strontium, calcium) were determined. In total, 53 individuals, including 22 gladiators, were analysed.

aka most of those tested were NOT gladiators

yet included?

All individuals consumed C3 plants like wheat and barley as staple food. A few individuals show indication of consumption of C4 plants. The δ13C values of one female from the gladiator cemetery and one gladiator differ from all other individuals. Their δ34S values indicate that they probably migrated from another geographical region or consumed different foods. The δ15N values are relatively low in comparison to other sites from Roman times. A probable cause for the depletion of 15N in Ephesus could be the frequent consumption of legumes. The Sr/Ca-ratios of the gladiators were significantly higher than the values of the contemporary Roman inhabitants. Since the Sr/Ca-ratio reflects the main Ca-supplier in the diet, the elevated values of the gladiators might suggest a frequent use of a plant ash beverage, as mentioned in ancient texts.

Are you telling me they sucked down on almond butter? Legumes, really?

Beverages are not food.

And it might’ve been to stave off infection (use for ash).

Due to the preferred uptake of Ca compared to Sr and the resulting “biopurification” of Ca in the food chain, it was long believed that Sr functions as a dietary plant-to-meat ratio indicator . It was assumed that a high Sr amount in the bone reflected a high vegetarian intake, and a low Sr amount indicated a diet rich in meat. Therefore, studies of Sr/Ca-ratios for the reconstruction of diet were introduced in 1965 for extinct animals and in the 1970s and early 1980s for prehistoric humans . Since then, numerous studies have dealt with this subject. Thus, we refer to detailed review articles(e. g. by , and ). Two major issues with this concept of diet reconstruction have to be highlighted:


First, the dietary plant-to-meat ratio approach experienced a major correction by Burton and Wright . They showed that Sr/Ca ratios in bone reflect the Sr/Ca ratio of the strongest Ca supplier rather than the whole plant-to-meat ratio of a multicomponent diet. This limits future Sr/Ca studies to identifying the major Ca source of the diet.

A second major drawback for the investigation of trace elements arose from the fact that bones buried in soil undergo diagenetic alterations . Many attempts were made to identify and quantify diagenetic changes to Sr/Ca-ratio with the target to reconstruct original Sr/Ca-ratios (summarized in ). Because of the complexity and variability of soil processes, this seems impossible up to now. Therefore, the scientific focus has shifted from trace elements to stable isotopes for diet reconstruction in recent years. Only few combined studies on trace elements and stable isotopes are available. Though we believe that trace element and stable isotope investigations complement each other and have the potential to draw a more comprehensive picture of ancient diets.

it gets worse

run while you still can

The bone sample preparation followed a protocol developed for spectroscopic trace element analysis in bone or teeth . First, the bones were superficially cleaned with tap water and dried at room temperature.

Archaeologists are idiots with spades, exhibit A.




on ancient samples, my stars

leave it out on the counter near students, it’ll be fiiiiiine

All individuals consumed C3 plants like wheat and barley as staple food.

i.e. Not fucking kale.

Pliny the Elder reported in his Naturalis historia that barley (hordearii), a C3 plant, was a main component of the gladiators nutrition which matches our findings . However, most NG individuals apparently also had C3 plants as a staple food since no statistical difference is detectable.

apparently? no ‘statistical’ difference? detectable?

whose job dis?

Me marking papers, the flashbacks.

A few individuals show more positive δ13C values. The most probable cause for this is an increased consumption of C4 plants such as millet.

probable how


how about no

keep filling in those gaps with BS, I’ll wait

Millet was an important nutrition crop in Eurasia and its consumption has already been verified in several ancient societies by stable isotope investigations , especially since the Middle Bronze Age in Italy  published similar δ13C data for imperial Rome Isola Sacra (−18.8‰ versus −18.9‰ here). They mention ancient literature in which millet is described as an animal food and as less desirable for human consumption under “normal” circumstances.

So animal feed. Not suggested for modern humans. K.

In their study, the δ13C values of the faunal remains are more negative than those of the humans, so it was assumed that the terrestrial herbivores basically fed on C3 plants. Although animal bones have not been investigated yet for reference in our study, we agree with .


Cunts with spades, I swear.

Yeah just throw some tap water on it then wonder about the calcium. It’s fine!

If the δ13C values were caused by the consumption of millet-fed animals, then higher δ15N values would be expected for the Ephesus population.

If. I read a scientific analysis of elements for a fucking IF.

It’s like grading a philosophy paper. IF.

If I were Batman.

One of the individuals with a rather strong signal for C4 plants, a δ13C value of −17.8, belongs to the gladiator group (EPH-DAM 187/93 rFEM 6) (Fig. 3).

One person?


Freud had larger sample sizes!

Another gladiator (EPH-DAM 248/93 rFEM 6) and one female (EPH-DAM 72/93 rFEM-1) show at least hints for a mixed signal of C3 and C4 plants.

Kill me now.

show – ok

at least – numbers?

hints – no

Fuck off and die. NO.

mixed signal – a pox on your family line

This individual is also extraordinary as she was the only female to be found in the gladiator cemetery.


This leads to two hypotheses: 1) these individuals had a different diet than the others

no shit Sherlock

or 2) they came from other geographical regions with a more C4 plant-based diet and migrated to Ephesus.

and died before leaving, let’s tell everyone to eat like slaves who died young!

The second one is more probable because the extensive cultivation of millet is only evidenced since the Early Byzantine Period, ca. AD450, for this region . Comparable δ13C data from Roman North Africa (Tunisia) with a mean of −17.7‰ were published by . However, their combined δ13C and δ15N values suggest a significant amount of dietary protein intake from marine resources.

You slipped that one in there, didn’t you?

Last sentence of section. Thought I wouldn’t notice, but I did.

An ancient cookbook written by Apicius which contains a collection of Roman recipes, suggests that seafood was probably consumed in Ephesus. Fish was most likely eaten as fish sauce (garum), but also cooked and salted.

Yeah another thing Whites invented.

 In contrast to this, the two individuals with the highest values are from the gladiator group, too (EPH-DAM 146/93 rFEM 1 and EPH-DAM 76/93 rFEM 2). That indicates a regular consumption of animal proteins and a lower intake of legumes. Within the gladiator group, the isotope data extend over more than one trophic level for δ15N but also for δ13C. This leads to the conclusion that the individuals from the gladiator cemetery were a very heterogeneous group who consumed different kind of foods.

Too pissed, you read the rest.

The meat values simply don’t show up because their methodological test is biased to conceal it with legume intake.

1. Be civil. 2. Be logical or fair. 3. Do not bore me.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s