Bones of a Roman Combatant

300AD - 400AD

He was tall for a Roman at 179cm and of a very muscular build. The muscle development suggests he was a professional fighter, either a soldier or a gladiator. 

He was found in January 2010, during the £2 million refurbishment of Yorkshire Museum, when builders unearthed his skeleton 30cm below the building's foundations.

Following analysis by experts from York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, it was revealed that the skeleton was of a middle aged adult male, aged between 36 and 45 years old. 

Lesions in his vertebrae suggest spinal stress, possibly through carrying heavy loads. But most notable are six blade injuries which, because there are no signs of healing, were delivered at death.

The skull had three blade injuries, including what was probably the fatal blow, a powerful stab wound to the back of the head.  It appears that the perpetrators attacked this man from the right side with a sword or swords. 

The skeleton was not found in a position associated with organised burial.  It was  with animal bones and broken pottery. This suggests that he was left to die in a pit. 

The body could be a pointer to bigger things. The site has long been thought of as a candidate for  the city's Amphitheatre.  York would almost certainly have had one, but it is yet to be discovered. 

Parts of the skeleton are now on display in the Yorkshire Museum's new Roman gallery - Roman York: Meet the People of the Empire.