Ancient Graffiti Reveals Children’s Shocking View of Gladiatorial Battles in Pompeii Before Vesuvius Eruption

Ancient Graffiti Reveals Children’s Shocking View of Gladiatorial Battles in Pompeii Before Vesuvius Eruption

Recent archaeological excavations in Pompeii have unveiled a remarkable find: charcoal etchings on the walls of a courtyard, depicting scenes of bloody gladiator battles.

These primitive sketches, estimated to be around 2,000 years old, provide a chilling glimpse into the violent spectacles witnessed by children in Ancient Rome.

A Window into the Past

Discovered in the Insula dei Casti Amanti, a complex of buildings in Pompeii, these graffiti offer insights into the daily lives and experiences of Pompeii’s inhabitants.

The proximity of these drawings to the ground and their simplistic style suggest that they were likely created by children who frequented the courtyard.

Direct Witness Accounts

According to Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, the drawings were likely based on direct observations rather than artistic models.

Children who played in this courtyard may have witnessed gladiatorial battles firsthand, exposing them to extreme forms of violence that undoubtedly left a lasting impact on their young minds.

Anthropological Insights

The style of these drawings, characterized by figures with arms and legs stemming directly from the head, bears a striking resemblance to contemporary children’s artwork.

This anthropological constant transcends cultural and artistic trends, providing a fascinating glimpse into the universality of childhood expression.

Impact on Mental Wellbeing

The graphic violence depicted in these sketches likely had profound effects on the mental wellbeing and development of Pompeii’s children.

Mr. Zuchtriegel suggests that these drawings offer a poignant reflection of the imaginative and emotional responses of young boys and girls exposed to such traumatic events.

Scenes of Violence and Play

The etchings not only portray gladiatorial combat but also depict scenes of boxing, ball games, and even outlines of children’s hands.

These varied depictions offer a nuanced view of childhood in Pompeii, where moments of play and leisure coexisted with the harsh realities of violence and spectacle.

Historical Context

The Insula dei Casti Amanti, where these drawings were discovered, was situated close to Pompeii’s amphitheatre, renowned for hosting gladiatorial contests.

This proximity suggests that children growing up in Pompeii were intimately familiar with the brutalities of these spectacles.

Ongoing Discoveries

Excavations in Pompeii continue to yield fascinating insights into ancient life. Recent discoveries, such as the alleyway of grand houses and the stunning artwork depicting mythical figures, underscore the richness of Pompeii’s cultural heritage.

Preservation and Public Access

Efforts to preserve and showcase these archaeological treasures are underway, with plans to restore and open them to the public.

Through these initiatives, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Pompeii’s vibrant past and the enduring legacy of its inhabitants.


The discovery of child-made graffiti depicting gladiatorial battles offers a poignant reminder of the human experiences preserved in Pompeii’s ruins.

As archaeologists continue to unearth new findings, Pompeii’s story unfolds, offering invaluable insights into the complexities of ancient life and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

TDPel Media

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