Image: Pollice Verso, 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, via Wikipedia
Scientists who've researched the contents of a burial site full of the 1,800-year-old remains of 80 male bodies believe them to be Roman gladiators. The skeletal remains, discovered in a residential garden in York, England, were found to have had muscles in their right arms that were much stronger than those in their left. The right arm strength was typical of men trained to be gladiators from an early age, according to early Roman texts. The skeletons were also found to have been decapitated, a typical procedure performed on gladiators defeated in the ring.
Yet the most compelling evidence for the remains being of gladiators was the presence of bite marks from large carnivores, most probably lions but also possibly bears and tigers, which limited researchers to only one conclusion. The exciting find is the best preserved gladiator grave site, and has helped scholars immensely in terms of understanding more about the men and their sport.
This is only one example of intriguing historical graveyard finds. Read about nine more such burial site discoveries here.