In the days of the Roman Empire, many lusted after sensations. And the Colosseum in the center of Rome, the most modern arena in the empire, was just the place for it. When a gladiator fell in battle, the cheers of the crowds rang out like a hurricane, like an approaching tidal wave, or some other cataclysm sent by the gods.
Even today, the sensational gladiator fights of antiquity are notorious and an exciting field of research for science. As a team led by archaeologist Martina Almonte found out during excavations, almost 2000 years ago, in addition to wild animals such as lions, tigers or elephants, dachshunds or dachshund-like dogs were also used in the Colosseum.
The archaeologists, whose work in the Colosseum began in January 2021, actually aimed to explore the sewage system with the approximately 70 meter long drainpipes of the ancient arena more closely and to gain new insights into the diet and everyday life in ancient Rome.
"Our investigation concerned the southern sewer, which has been clogged and more or less out of order since AD 523, when the Colosseum ceased to be an amphitheater and became some sort of dwelling house, fortress, hospital, and even a spinning mill was," wrote Martina Almonte on Twitter.
During the excavations, however, the researchers accidentally came across the remains of small dogs in the drainage shafts - possibly an original form of the dachshund. They found the dog bones along with those of other animals such as leopards and bears.
Now the archaeologists are puzzling: what role did the dachshunds play in the ancient amphitheater? In the fight against the big predators, the little dogs would have been totally defeated and the spectacle would have ended far too quickly.
Almonte and her team therefore assume that 2000 years ago the dachshunds played more of a supporting role. It is most likely that the dachshunds were used to reenact various hunting scenes in which the dogs acted as trackers and companions of the hunters. The dogs could also have been used for acrobatic performances.
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