A Weekend Of Violence And Gambling At The Museum Of London

By David Prudames | 09 August 2002
and you thought Spurs and Arsenal was the capital's toughest contest. 50 denarii each way anyone? © Museum of London

Left: and you thought Spurs and Arsenal was the capital's toughest contest. 50 denarii each way anyone? © Museum of London

The Museum of London encouraged history fans to get involved in the vice-fuelled underworld of Roman Britain at the weekend and participate in some online gambling.

Merging the new world with the ancient, plucky punters were able to put their denarii where their mouths were on a gladiatorial contest at London's original amphitheatre.

checking those form books, weighing the odds for each gladiator - really a member of the re-enactment group Britannia. © Museum of London

Right: checking those form books, weighing the odds for each gladiator - really a member of the re-enactment group Britannia. © Museum of London

The Museum travelled back to AD 85 and invited the Emperor Domitian to town to see eight bloodthirsty gladiators representing two teams, the Leones Londonii (London Lions) and the Carnifices Camuloduni (Colchester Cut-throats), in a life or death derby.

The online game of 'Ludi' - Latin for games - allowed players to register online to receive the grand sum of 200 virtual denarii - 50 nicker to you and me - which could then be used to bet on as many fights and fighters as they wished.

Draco, ex-centurion and war hero, 20 victories. Odds before the event: 2/1. © Museum of London

Left: Draco, ex-centurion and war hero, 20 victories. Odds before the event: 2/1. © Museum of London

Experts at the Museum of London recommended spread betting, just in case the top choice got the thumbs down!

Gladiatorial bouts took place twice daily at 12.00 and 15.00 with odds fluctuating to meet demand while bets could be spread across the whole event.

London's Roman amphitheatre © Museum of London

Right: London's Roman amphitheatre © Museum of London

The results will be published on the Museum of London website on August 20, with the winner of the most money receiving a replica Roman glass cup, based on fragments found in London and elsewhere.

The whole event took place at the Guildhall Yard, on the site of London's original amphitheatre built in AD 70 and unearthed by archaeologists in 1988.

If you lost everything or made a Roman mint at the weekend click here to visit the Museum of London website and see how you got on.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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