Archaeologists Discover Gladiatorial Arena in Switzerland

Are you not science?

Kaiseraugst's history goes way beyond when this photo was taken.
Werner Friedli/ETH-Bibliothek, CC BY-SA 4.0

Traditionally, Switzerland is known for its longstanding practice of neutrality and its reputation for peace. But if you dig deeply enough into its history, you’re likely to find a bit more conflict below the surface. And by “dig deeply,” we’re speaking very literally.

In the town of Kaiseraugst, work was underway to build a boat house on the Rhine River. Archaeologists were on the site monitoring it for signs of anything unexpected when — lo and behold — they found exactly that. According to an article at Smithsonian Magazine, the archaeologists found evidence that the same plot of land had once been home to an arena used for gladiatorial combat. A coin from the 4th century A.D. offered a better sense of when it was in use.

What makes this arena even more interesting is something revealed by Live Science‘s reporting on its discovery. According to one of the archaeologists on the scene, this may have been the last arena built for gladiators during the Roman Empire.

Jakob Baerlocher, the head of excavations on the site, shared that belief with Live Science. The coin isn’t the only thing discovered as part of the dig that suggests that it dates back to the fourth century; some of the building materials and styles also support that conclusion.

The articles leave some questions open, including how this will affect the planned boathouse. For now, it’s an unexpected glimpse back into a striking part of the region’s history.

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