Sonja Vuković-Bogdanović (Laboratory for bioarchaeology, Faculty of Phislosphy,Belgrade)
Knowledge on animal spectacles involving animals in amphitheatres is mainly based on literary data. Ancient writers, who obviously tended to exaggerate in their narrations, mostly described shows that went on in the Colosseum, while data on animal shows in other amphitheatres are scarce. Indeed, it is a question which animals were actually used in spectacles throughout the Empire. Zooarchaeological data, which are the strongest evidence on animals that lived in the past, have rarely been incorporated in studies. In the course of archaeological excavations of Roman amphitheatres animal bones are common finds. Although these bones are mainly butchery or food waste, finds of animals (e.g. big cats, bears) that according to texts could have been used in spectacles, raise the question – what they really mean and whether we can connect them to animals that participated in shows. In this poster faunal composition and other features of animal bones from Roman amphitheatres have been mutually compared and also paralleled with zooarchaeological data from other chosen Roman period sites. Faunal data come from amphitheatres in Italy, Roman Britain, Austria and Switzerland, while detailed study of animal remains from Viminacium amphitheatre (Serbia) have been used as a case study for finding answers to raised questions.