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The secret of the graffiti in Pompeii depicting gladiators has been revealed: they were painted by 5-year-old children. Photo.

Anna BoklajukNews
Archaeological site of Pompeii

Archaeologists have discovered charcoal engravings on the wall of a courtyard in Pompeii, an Italian city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The primitive sketches, which experts believe to be about 2000 years old, depict people with spears and shields fighting wild animals and each other.

Such bloody scenes were typical of the Pompeii amphitheater and often included fights to the death. It is believed that children drew them after watching Roman fighters because they were emotionally affected by what they saw, MailOnline writes.

The latest discoveries in Pompeii were made during excavations at the Insula dei Casti Amanti, a complex of buildings west of the city. The fact that the drawings were made quite close to the floor and are quite primitive in style suggests that they were made by children.

The secret of the graffiti in Pompeii depicting gladiators has been revealed: they were painted by 5-year-old children. Photo.

"We have come to the conclusion that most likely the drawings of gladiators and hunters were made on the basis of direct observation, not from graphic models. Probably, some of the children who played in this courtyard witnessed the fights in the amphitheater," comments Gabriel Zuchtrigel, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park.

"The children saw an extreme form of spectacular violence, which could also include the execution of criminals and slaves. The figures have arms and legs coming directly out of their heads, a style of drawing that is typical of children today.

The secret of the graffiti in Pompeii depicting gladiators has been revealed: they were painted by 5-year-old children. Photo.

In some scenes, the men appear to be wrestling with four-legged animals, believed to be wild boars. Also depicted are two figures playing with a ball, a boxing scene (depicting one of two boxers lying on the ground), and small hands that were probably the outlines of the children's own hands, drawn in charcoal.

It is known that the Insula dei Casti Amanti was not far from the Pompeii amphitheater, famous for hosting gladiatorial battles before it was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This site is now open to visitors who can walk over the remains thanks to a newly built system of suspended walkways.

The secret of the graffiti in Pompeii depicting gladiators has been revealed: they were painted by 5-year-old children. Photo.

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