A fresco depicting a heavily-armed gladiator standing victorious over his opponent.
A vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent stumbles gushing blood has been discovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy's Culture ministry said Friday.
The striking scene in gold, blue and red was uncovered in what experts think was a tavern frequented by gladiators, who fought each other, prisoners and wild animals for the public's entertainment.
"What is particularly interesting is the extremely realistic representation of the wounds, such as the one on the wrist and chest of the unsuccessful gladiator, from which the blood runs, wetting his leggings.
"We do not know how this fight ended. Gladiators were killed or shown mercy," Pompeii's director Massimo Osanna said.
A "Murmillo" fighter wearing a plumed, wide-brimmed helmet with visor, holds aloft his large rectangular shield in his left hand, as he grips his short sword in the right.
The striking scene in gold, blue and red was uncovered in what is believed to have been a tavern.
On the ground next to him lies the shield of the defeated "Thraex", who has suffered deep wounds and is on the point of collapse.
"What is particularly interesting is the extremely realistic representation of the wounds, such as the one on the wrist and chest of the unsuccessful gladiator, from which the blood runs, wetting his leggings," Osanna said.
"The Thraex is gesturing with his hand, possibly asking for mercy," he said.
The fresco which measures 1.12 metres by 1.5 metres was found in what excavators believe was a basement room, as the imprint of a wooden staircase can be seen above it.
The discovery was made during works to secure an area of the north of the archaeological park.
Treasures of a ruined city
The building was situated not far from the gladiators' barracks in Regio V, an entire quarter of the site that has recently offered up several impressive archaeological finds but is yet to open to the public.
It was most likely a tavern with an upper floor of rooms used either by the innkeeper or by prostitutes, the ministry said.
The discovery was made during works to secure an area of the north of the archaeological park under the Great Pompeii Project, launched after years of bad maintenance and poor weather caused a series of wall collapses.
Gladiators fought each other, prisoners and wild animals for the public's entertainment.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the find showed Pompeii was "an inexhaustible mine of research and knowledge for the archaeologists of today and the future".
The ruined city in southern Italy is the second most visited tourist site in the country, after the Colosseum in Rome, with more than 3.6 million visitors in 2018.
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