“We know hardly anything about the gladiators,” historian Josef Löffl said. “There are a lot of myths and clichés attached.”
Löffl and his colleagues plan to find out this August whether they can make modern young men into authentic gladiators following the Roman example.
The student warriors, who are all studying various disciplines at the university, won't be eating pizza, hamburgers or steaks during their training. Instead they'll have berries and white beans on their plates as the ancient Roman doctor Galen recommended in his texts.
They will also learn to fight wearing bronze helmets that weigh almost five kilogrammes at a camp that won't allow girlfriends, showers, or washing machines.
“For me it's a welcome change from sitting in front of the computer,” said athletic archaeology student Martin Schreiner.
He and the other gladiators are already training together four days a week. Following the summer training camp the group plans to perform at the former Roman army camp Carnuntum in Austria.
“We assume that those involved will weather the experiment quite well,” Löffl said.
Regensburg was once an important Roman stronghold along the Danube River, and historians at the university have conducted similar experiments in the past. In 2004 students built a Roman galley along the banks of the river, while others lived like legionnaires in the Alps.
This year's project has been funded by €200,000 from businessman Hans Schaller, whose hobby is recreating historic events and participating as the character "Schallus Brutalus Maximus.”