Pompeii gladiator drawings suggest children saw ‘extreme form’ of violence
source: yimg.com

Pompeii gladiator drawings suggest children saw ‘extreme form’ of violence

Children’s sketches depicting violent scenes of gladiators and hunters battling animals have been unearthed at the archaeological park of Pompeii, according to the park’s superintendent. These drawings, believed to have been created by children aged between five and seven before the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, were discovered on the walls of a back room in the “Island of Chaste Lovers” residential sector of the park.

The findings reveal that even children in ancient times were exposed to extreme forms of violence. “It does not seem to be a problem only of today, between video games and social media,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the park’s superintendent, stated. “The difference is that in ancient times the bloodshed in the arena was real, and few saw it as a problem, with all the possible repercussions on the psycho-mental development of Pompeian children.”

As of Tuesday, visitors to the park can view these drawings from suspended walkways above the excavation site, where archaeologists continue their work. The sketches depict a fight scene involving two gladiators armed with spears, likely facing wild boars. Nearby, the head of a bird of prey, possibly an eagle, is also visible. Additionally, the drawings include a child’s outlined hands made with charcoal and figures playing with a ball.

Another scene shows a boxing match with both boxers appearing to be in a “knock-out” position on the ground. An older drawing on an adjacent wall, presumably made by an older child using a red mineral pigment rather than charcoal, depicts a more sophisticated marine scene with two ships surrounded by fantastical fish, one of which is caught on a hook. This older painting was partially covered in whitewash, suggesting that the room was being repainted to cover up the children’s drawings.

The Pompeii park has initiated a collaboration with the Department of Child Neuropsychiatry at Naples’ Federico II University to study the children’s art. Researchers have determined that the drawings likely came from “direct vision” of an event rather than from pictorial models. “Probably one or more of the children who played in this courtyard, among the kitchens, latrine, and flowerbeds for growing vegetables, had witnessed fights in the amphitheater, thus coming into contact with an extreme form of spectacularized violence, which could also include executions of criminals and slaves,” Zuchtriegel explained. “The drawings show us the impact of this on the imagination of a young boy or girl, subject to the same developmental stages that are still found today.”

In addition to the drawings, archaeologists uncovered the petrified remains of a man and a woman who perished when the volcano erupted, capturing the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in a time capsule first discovered in the 16th century. The presumed couple was found in front of a home that was undergoing renovation, based on construction materials found on site.

Archaeologists also discovered a painting of a small child wearing a hood, which they say is “without comparison” in Pompeii. This painting, perhaps a homage to a deceased child, depicts the child surrounded by bunches of grapes and pomegranates and a tiny dog, seemingly looking out into the garden near where the other children’s drawings were found.

The ongoing excavations are part of an extensive plan to save the ancient site from collapse after years of neglect. Previous discoveries have included a prison bakery and a lavish dining room with mythological figures on the walls.