Gladiatorial combat is one of the best-known phenomena of the ancient world. Countless films and books have made the figure of the gladiator popular. For the most part they depict cruel contests in a sandy arena in front of a cheering crowd. But what is really behind the brutal, often deadly, games? Thanks to new archaeological and forensic research, the conventional picture of the gladiator can be explained and questioned anew. From September 2019 on, the Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection will show visitors to the special exhibition "Gladiator – The True Story" a new image of gladiators, their lives, and their social function, as well as the significance of the combats as a political instrument. Partnering with renowned museums and archaeological sites such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli and the Roman city Augusta Raurica in Augst, Switzerland, will make an extensive presentation possible. One highlight will be the gladiator mosaic from Augusta Raurica, which adorned a grand reception room of a villa in early third century AD. It will be restored and – for the first time since it was discovered in 1961 – exhibited in its entirety. Furthermore, the famous gladiatorial weapons from Pompeii can be seen for the last time outside their local museum. More than sixty thousand visitors from Switzerland and neighboring countries are expected to visit the exhibition.
The Foundation Board supports the exhibition with a top-priority grant of CHF 50,000.