Romans activity 10: a fight to the death
The children examine an intriguing figure on a fragment of pottery from Folkestone.
See Learn with Objects Romans 12: gladiators. They explore the question: Who is he and what is he doing?
From this starting point, they investigate the theme of gladiators, to discover why this barbaric entertainment was such an important part of Roman life.
They explore the Colchester gladiator vase - one of the highlights of the British Museum collection - and have fun bringing to life the scenes depicted on it through role play.
Finally, using knowledge from their research, they imagine what the complete Folkestone gladiator bowl may have looked like, and recreate it in a media of their choice.
Increased knowledge and understanding of Roman Britain, the wider Roman world, and gladiators.
Increased knowledge and understanding of Roman pottery designs and techniques.
Develop skills and confidence from experimenting with new art materials and techniques. Creating a gladiator pot design in chalk and charcoal.
KS1-2 History (Romans, Local History Study).
KS1-2 Art and Design (Roman Samian ware pottery designs)
KS1-2 Role play (act out the scene on the pot through role play)
Start by looking at the figure on a fragment of orange-coloured pottery. See Learn with Objects Romans 12: gladiators. Ask the following questions:
- What’s the person holding?
- What are they wearing on their head?
- What are they wearing on their body?
- Is it a man or a woman?
- Who do you think they might be?
- What do you think it is part of?
Show the next image of the ruined amphitheatre at Nimes. Ask the following questions:
- What do you think this place is?
- What do you think once happened here?
- What has happened to it since?
- Are there any other buildings like this in the world?
Ask the children to explore gladiators in books and online. Perhaps they could try and find the answers to one or more of the following questions and report back with their findings:
- What is a gladiator?
- Where does the name gladiator come from?
- Where did they fight?
- Did they only fight other gladiators?
- What different kinds of gladiator were there?
- Who became gladiators?
- What training did they have?
- Who was Spartacus?
- Were there gladiator fights in Roman Britain?
- Where does our evidence of Roman gladiators come from?
The following websites have excellent content suitable for research by KS2 children.
Children explore the Colchester gladiator vase - one of the highlights of the British Museum collection - and have fun bringing to life the 3 different scenes and named characters depicted on it through role play.
Art project: Design a Gladiator bowl
Project an image of the Samian ware gladiator bowl fragment from Folkestone on the class whiteboard (Learn with Objects 12: gladiators).
Give each child a piece of A3 orange/terracotta coloured sugar paper.
Ask them to divide it in 6 equal parts (2 rows of three in landscape format) and carefully observe and draw in the Samian fragment in the top centre section.
Taking inspiration from gladiator references they have investigated the children then imagine the shape and design of the rest of the bowl. An initial sketch design can be made roughly in pencil.
Junior artists use chalk or charcoal to create lighter and darker areas (highlights and shadows) leaving the orange paper as the mid tone. This is the same technique used by Old Master artists.
For examples of this technique see Learn with Objects Master collection images