Fresco with fighting gladiators discovered in Pompeii

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A fresco depicting two gladiators has come to light during excavations at the Pompeii archeological site on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, archeologists announced on Friday.

The fresco, measuring roughly 1 meter by 1.5 meters, was found on the interior wall of what could have been a tavern frequented by gladiators because it is located near a gladiator barracks, the Pompeii Archeological Park said in a statement.

The two gladiators appear to be at the end of their combat, with one raising his shield victoriously and the other with his shield on the ground, cowering and bleeding from various wounds, as seen in a photo posted by Pompeii authorities.

"What is of particular interest in this fresco is the extremely realistic depiction of the wounds," Pompeii Archeological Park Director General Massimo Osanna said in a statement.

"We don't know how this particular combat ultimately ends," Osanna continued. "It could end in death, or in the loser being granted his life. In this case, the loser is making a gesture with his hand, perhaps to ask for mercy."

The site where the fresco was discovered has yet to be fully excavated, and another figure is partially visible on one side, Pompeii authorities said.

"An unprecedented discovery on the part of archeologists who, for the first time since 79 A.D., are digging in a part of Pompeii that has never been investigated before," Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini tweeted.

"A marvel admired by the whole world," he wrote.

The site of the ancient Roman town of Pompeii, which was preserved in lava after Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79 A.D., is one of Italy's UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

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