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Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

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Roman Entertainment & Leisure

The ancient Romans were known for their love of entertainment and leisure. Discover the various forms of entertainment enjoyed by the Romans, from gladiatorial games to chariot races, theater, and more. Gain insight into the role of leisure in Roman society, and how it was used to reinforce social hierarchies.

Representation of Roman god Bacchus, renowned lover of Roman wine.

Toasted Bread and Walnuts: The Secret to Sophisticated Roman Wine Revealed

Of the many cultural and physical remnants left behind by the Romans, along with everlasting concrete, a love of wine also endures. When the Roman poet Horace contemplates death, he was more...
An ancient Roman gladiator. Source: Luis Louro /Adobe Stock

The Reality of Gladiator Life and Their Training (Video)

In the world of gladiators , once perceived as either heroic warriors or despised villains, their existence is marked by brutality and ritualized training rather than the romanticized notions of...
Helen Mirren playing Caesonia in Tinto Brass’ 1979 historical drama film, Caligula.  Source: CC BY-SA 4.0/Author Supplied

Did the Romans and Greeks Really Enjoy Orgies?

Christian-Georges Schwentzel /The Conversation Orgies conjure in our imagination the world of Greek and Roman Antiquity, thanks to more or less titillating films portraying debauched emperors, or...
A gladiator fights a lion at the Gladiator Games in ancient Rome. Source: (DigitalGenetics/Adobe Stock)

The Exotic Menagerie: The Wild Animals Slaughtered in Gladiator Games

The ancient Roman gladiator games were a spectacle of blood and brutality that captivated audiences for centuries. While we may imagine sword-wielding gladiators fighting to the death in the arena,...
Some of the finds from the Northgate construction site, Chester, near the site of an important Roman legion camp.     Source: Oxford Archaeology

New Finds Made Near Famous Roman Legion Base in Britain

Archaeologists have made some impressive new finds at an important Roman site in Britain. The finds are in an area that was once part of a large, Roman legionary camp and barracks. These discoveries...
Chariot race in Rome's Circus Maximus, as if seen from the starting gate. The Palatine Hill and Imperial palace are to the left, by Jean Léon Gérôme (1876) (Public Domain)

The Life Of A Celebrity Roman Chariot Horse

“The horses burst through the sky and with swift-hooved feet cut a dash through the clouds, which blocked their way as borne on wings they passed the east wind .” (Ovid, Metamorphoses II.157–60) The...
Artifact Reveals People Were Fed To Lions In Roman Britain

Artifact Reveals People Were Fed To Lions In Roman Britain

Archaeologists have presented gory visual evidence that problematic people were fed to lions in Roman Britain. Excavations at a Roman house in Leicester, England in 2017 unearthed a dirt-caked bronze...
The Roman ruins at Valeria in Castilla-La Mancha. Source: Cultura Castilla-La Mancha

Valeria: Thriving Roman Holiday Resort Emerging From Abandoned Ruins

Standing at these Roman ruins in the Spanish province of Cuenca, it’s hard to imagine that Valeria was a bustling Roman city 2,000 years ago. “You have to imagine a visitor entering the city through...
Two gladiators bear-baiting also depicted on the Colchester vase. (Carole Raddato / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Colchester Vase is First Proof of Gladiator Tournaments in Roman Britain

New research has revealed evidence that gladiatorial combat took place in Roman Britain in the late second century AD. The evidence of these bloody battles was found on a vase discovered in a Roman...
Gladiators fighting

Gladiators: Ancient Romans Loved Their Deadly Games

The ancient Romans were known for many things – their engineering marvels, road networks, and the establishment of Roman law. They were, however, also renowned for their war-like nature. After all,...
These knucklebones from the Hellenistic period, from roughly 2,300 years ago, were recently unearthed in central Israel in an area closely connected with the First Temple period. Source: Israel Antiquities Authority

2,300-year-old Knucklebones Used for Divination Found In Israel

Scientists in Israel have discovered ancient animals' knucklebones used to foretell the future and as a form of spiritual protection in the wild and unpredictable ancient world. They were also the...
Gladiators after the fight, José Moreno Carbonero (1882)

Gladiators: Were any of them Christian?

The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is no secret. Christians posed a dangerous threat to the security of the Empire by refusing to worship the pagan gods, whose favor was seen as...
Arde Lucus Gladiatrix

Gladiatrix: Female Fighters Offered Lewd Entertainment in Ancient Rome

Female gladiators (gladiatrix) were just a thing of legend for many years. However, decades of research have made it possible to finally confirm their existence and importance in the Ancient Roman...
The Emperor Commodus Leaving the Arena at the Head of the Gladiators by American muralist Edwin Howland Blashfield. Source: Public Domain

5 Celebrity Gladiators of Bloodthirsty Ancient Rome

Fierce fighters, enslaved and forced into a world of violence and brutality, Roman gladiators provided gruesome entertainment to the Roman public, training for months in specialized schools managed...
Remains of healthy snacks have been found at the Colosseum, Rome. Source: Amith/Adobe Stock

Romans Snacked on Nuts and Melons While Enjoying Colosseum Bloodbath

Over the last year archaeologists excavating the Colosseum in Rome have unearthed animal bones and coins. Now, they’ve discovered “snacks” that were consumed by the bloodthirsty spectators. Dating...
Bloody gladiator sports at the Colosseum ( Gasi/ Adobe Stock)

Are You Not Entertained? A Take On Professional Sports, Philosophy and Wargames In Ancient Rome

The poet Juvenal berated the Roman people for allowing themselves to be seduced by slimy politicians who bought their votes with free wheat and expensive circus games: “Already long ago, from when we...
A representation of naumachia. 1894 painting by Ulpiano Checa. Source: Public Domain

The Spectacle of Naumachia: Rome's Brutal Naval Gladiator Battles

For centuries naval gladiator battles, known as naumachia , enthralled crowds with their realistic recreations of famous sea battles, complete with all the chaos, bravery, and brutality of the...
A gladiator stands before an arena filled with spectators. Source: Justinas / Adobe Stock.

What Being a Spectator at the Rome Colosseum Was Like (Video)

From the thunderous roar of the crowd to the heart-stopping battles between gladiators and exotic beasts, this YouTube video takes you on a journey back in time to experience the jaw-dropping...
Backgammon as depicted from the 14th century Codex Manesse. Source: Public domain

The 5,000-Year-Old Ancient History of Backgammon

Despite its modern popularity, not many know that backgammon is actually one of the oldest board games known to man. The story of backgammon stretches back 5,000 years and around the globe, spanning...