A vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent stumbles gushing blood has been discovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy's culture ministry said Friday.
The striking scene in gold, blue and red was uncovered in what experts think was a tavern frequented by gladiators, who fought each other, prisoners and wild animals for the public's entertainment.
"We do not know how this fight ended. Gladiators were killed or shown mercy," Pompeii's director Massimo Osanna said.
A "Murmillo" fighter wearing a plumed, wide-brimmed helmet with visor, holds aloft his large rectangular shield in his left hand, as he grips his short sword in the right.
On the ground next to him lies the shield of the defeated "Thraex", who has suffered deep wounds and is on the point of collapse.
"What is particularly interesting is the extremely realistic representation of the wounds, such as the one on the wrist and chest of the unsuccessful gladiator, from which the blood runs, wetting his leggings," Osanna said.
"The Thraex is gesturing with his hand, possibly asking for mercy," he said.
The fresco—which measures 1.12 metres by 1.5 metres—was found in what excavators believe was a basement room, as the imprint of a wooden staircase.