An ancient site in the southwestern province of Muğla is believed to be the land where gladiators lived after they retired.
Excavations carried out in Muğla’s Yatağan district uncovered the city of Stratoniceia, where the largest gymnasium in Anatolia and a graveyard for gladiators are located. The excavation is expected to shed light on gladiator fights from about 1,800 years ago.
“We believe that gladiators retired and lived in Stratoniceia. As much as it is a city of marble, Stratoniceia is also a city of gladiators,” excavation head Bilal Söğüt, a professor at the department of archeology at Denizli’s Pamukkale University, told the Anatolia news agency.
Söğüt said it has many aspects that distinguish it from other ancient sites, including the gymnasium and the fact that the city was one of gladiators.
A necropolis including tombs of gladiators was uncovered in the northern part of the city. “The gravestones found there are on display at the Muğla Museum. Among them are very famous gladiators, including Droseros, who was killed by Akhilleus, as well as Vitalius, Eumelus, Amaraios, Khrysopteros and Khrysos. Droseros had 17 victories, losing to Akhilleus in the end,” Söğüt explained.
Nowhere else in Anatolia is home to this many gladiator gravestones, he said. More gladiator gravestones are expected to be uncovered during the ongoing excavation. “We hope to discover more gladiator names in the coming years. We will have a clearer picture of the area in the future. We will discover more items here,” Söğüt said.
Muğla Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Kamil Özer said they will carry out a campaign in 2011 to promote the seven gravestones on display at the Muğla Museum. “We first plan to restore the museum building. We aim to promote the building’s gladiator hall, especially at international fairs. [Muğla’s] culture tourism is lucky to have the gravestones of these seven gladiators exhibited at the Muğla Museum,” he said. The gravestones are accompanied by images from the hit movie “Gladiator” on display at the museum.