Julian dating system
"Amazon and Achillia must have fought well," observes Ralph Jackson, a curator in the department of prehistory and early Europe at the museum. Historical texts suggest the emperor Septimius Severus outlawed the spectacles in A. 202, but scholars suspect they continued for some time afterward.
Amazon and Achillia are the only female gladiators whose exploits are known to have been sculpted in stone. The Great Dover Street woman went to her grave with goods that suggest she may have died a popular gladiator.
A curiosity about the exploits of female gladiators seems oddly out of character for archaeologist Hedley Swain, a short, slim, compact man of 40 with a smile full of crooked teeth and an affinity for conservatively tailored suits and ties.
Swain is the head of the Museum of London's early history department, where he is in charge of a pile of ashes and bone fragments dubbed Gladiator Girl by the British press.
While the male pelvis is deep and narrow, the female pelvis is shallow and wide and contains many sex-specific features.
From an analysis of the charred fragments, White concluded that the body belonged to a young woman in her twenties.
Emperors issued coins stamped with the faces of popular gladiators, and wealthy families decorated homes with scenes of their death agonies.
Someone had even paid for a lavish farewell feast of doves, chickens, and imported figs, dates, and white almonds from Mediterranean groves. Tiny traces of molten glass the young woman had been wearing glittered in the grave fill.
From a welter of charred and fragmented bone, osteologists have concluded the Great Dover Street woman died in her twenties, a prime fighting age. Who, Swain wondered, would have lived as a pariah and yet attracted wealthy admirers?
Osteologist Bill White pored over the cremated human bone.
Some of the larger fragments clearly came from the pelvisa stroke of luck in terms of sexing the body.