It was not an easy life for Roman gladiators who were condemned to fight. But what did they live off? A study from the University of Vienna has looked into this and found that fighters would drink a drink containing plant ashes, similar to what Pliny the Elder (a famous Roman author) had described.
In the study, researchers had analyzed bones from several fighters that were found in the ruins of an ancient city Ephesus, currently located in Turkey. They found that the levels of strontium and calcium in these bones were higher than levels found in normal bones, which would seem to confirm that these people probably did often consume a drink that was prepared with vegetable ashes.
As for the purpose of this strange drink, that is not entirely clear, but it could have been based on the belief that it was able to invigorate fighters and allow wounds to heal faster. Beyond this drink, it’s likely that gladiators also ate a diet high in vegetables.