Karl Grossschmidt, a forensic anthropologist at Vienna University, used chemical testing on the bones [of more than 70 gladiators recently found near Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia Minor] to reveal that gladiators stuck to a diet of barley and beans to bulk out.
It was a boring diet, he admitted. “They got enough of this food every day to make them very fat and strong,” he said. He concluded that they devised the diet primarily to protect themselves from slashing wounds and damage to nerves and blood vessels, with the layer of fat supplementing their scant armour.
So much for the stereotypical image of skinny, weak vegetarians!