The exhibition on Roman armour and gladiators is unique as it gathers, in a single exposition, the reconstruction of the most representative helmets and cuirasses of a period dating from VII century B.C. to IV century A.D., showing almost a thousand years of Roman army and gladiators history.

The remaking of all these artefacts has been conceived thanks to careful studies of the archaeological finds of the most important History and Archaeology Museums in the world, finally reunited in an only museum. The exhibition of the artefacts, reconstructed through the ancient techniques of fusion and repoussé, is skilfully supported by panels and drawings describing Roman weaponry of the various periods in great detail and with archaeological rigor, realized by the architect Silvano Mattesini in over twenty years of research and experimentation.

Starting from the ancient helmets of Corinthian and Etruscan origin, the visitor goes on to discover the essential bronze helmets of Montefortino and so on towards the more complex evolutions of the Imperial Gallic ones. Visitors will be able to study how the armour evolved from simple breastplates to extremely articulate defensive equipment: always related and forged depending on the weapons of the various enemies against whom they fought over time.

After the discovery of Roman infantry weaponry visitors will be able to admire the typical helmets of cavalry: wonderful specimens often personalized by their owners until they reached the maximum artistic and stylistic expression of the parade helmets most often used on formal occasions. The visitor will then come upon the cold expressiveness of masked helmets, so typically used in the Roman tournaments called Hippika gymnasia.

A large space is granted to the part concerning the gladiators: who seem to belong only to the awful spectacles of amphitheatres, but they were also strictly linked, on the contrary, to the experience of the army in Roman military history. The history of gladiators tells us about battles between well-defined couples, for example: Thraex against Murmillo, Retiarius against Secutor, Hoplomacus against Murmillo, Provocator against Provocator and so on; finally, the visitor will have the chance to look at them closely already set against each other. It will be an interesting comparison and it will be useful to note the difference between a rigorous “archaeological experience” and the “habit” of imagining the Romans exactly as cinema has taught people to see them.
A part of this rich exposition was in 2010 in the Coliseum, where it was admired for months achieving resounding success because of the philology and care of its reproductions. The complete exposition has now a permanent and prestigious home, right in the centre of Piazza Navona, where it can be admired over time by tourists from all over the world.