Regensburg - Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Roman theatre in the small German town of Kuenzing, suggesting that soldiers at the front were entertained by gladiators and animal fights.
Known as Quintanis in Roman times, the town was on the Danube frontier of the Roman empire and garrisoned by 500 mercenaries.
The archaeologists were astonished to discover an oval area of post holes and realised they were looking at the remains of wooden grandstands round an arena.
"This is the first time a forgotten theatre has been rediscovered in Germany," said Karl Schmotz, archaeologist of Deggendorf county. "There are only a handful of Roman amphitheatres in the whole of Germany." A dig at the site is to continue into next year.
A stone amphitheatre at Trier, on the French border, is a major tourist attraction, but Trier was a major city and its various Roman buildings have been continuously used - with occasional repairs - for 2 000 years.
The Romans' idea of entertainment was gory fighting in the arena with plenty of slaves and savage animals dying. The top shows at Trier evidently featured exotic wild beasts, but the Quintanis site may have had to make do with cheaper local acts. - Sapa-DPA