Romans 12: gladiators Can you spot a man on this fragment of pottery? What’s he doing? Expand Here he is in close-up detail. He’s dressed in armour, holding a sword above his head, and carrying a shield. So he’s either a Roman soldier or a gladiator. Gladiators were trained to fight each other for public entertainment, often in huge open-air arenas called amphitheatres. Soldiers and gladiators were depicted on smooth, red-orange coloured Samian-ware pottery, imported into Roman Britain from Gaul (modern-day France). Samian-ware was used by wealthy Romans for special occasions. What kind of building is this? Expand This is a Roman amphitheatre at Nimes in France. This print was collected by Thomas Man Bridge during his travels round Europe in the 1830s. Imagine what it must have been like in Roman times with a packed crowd, shouting for their favourite gladiator and baying for blood. And think how terrifying it was for the gladiators, just one sword blow from certain death. Did you know? Gladiators got their name from the gladius, the short stabbing sword that many of them used as their main weapon in the arena.