What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Marble relief with female gladiators

Relief: female gladiators

Width: 78.000 cm
Height: 66.000 cm

GR 1847.4-24.19 (Sculpture 1117)

According to several contemporary eye-witnesses, women also performed in the arena. According to the biographer Suetonius, the emperor Domitian (reigned AD 81-96) made women fight by torchlight at night.

This marble relief was carved on the occasion of the missio (honourable release) of two women fighters, 'Amazon' and 'Achilia', who had probably earned their freedom by giving a series of outstanding performances. They are shown with the same equipment as male gladiators, but without helmets.

Women made up a part of the audience as well, though they did have to sit separately from men in the top rows at the back.

The satirist Juvenal (Saturae 6, 110 ff.) describes the amorous feelings of a lady called Eppia for a fighting hero. His many wounds did not trouble her, for after all he was a gladiator. The satirist adds: 'What these women love is the sword.' The excavators of the gladiatorial school in Pompeii found a richly adorned woman, obviously of high social status, among the gladiators. Had the eruption of Vesuvius brought a clandestine love affair to a terrible end?