Terracotta figurine of 2 gladiators

Roman, 1st-2nd century AD

Early representations of gladiatorial combat show both men dressed and armed in the same way. However, there was a change in the late republican period (1st century BC) when a number of different categories evolved, with different armour and weapons. By the Imperial period (1st-4th century AD), we have evidence of around a dozen clearly distinct armatura, or gladiatorial categories. The variety of armour and weapons meant that each had different strengths and weaknesses, making the combat more interesting.

The distinctive small shields of this pair of gladiators show that the duel is between two heavily-armed combatants, a hoplomachus with circular shield and a thraex, with small rectangular shield. The thraex, armed in the Thracian style, and the hoplomachus, with his Greek equipment, were usually pitted against the murmillo, armed like a legionary, mimicking the opposition between Roman soldiers and their various non-Italian enemies.

Find in the collection online

Terracotta figurine of 2 gladiators

Terracotta figurine of 2 gladiators


More information


E. Köhne and C. Ewigleben (eds.), Gladiators and Caesars: the po (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


Height: 12.800 cm

Museum number

GR 1907.5-18.4



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore