SMP Spotlight: Katie Boyle Investigates Gladiatorial Combat in Ancient Greece


During senior year, besides counting down the days and hours to graduation, most students at the college are busy at work with their St. Mary’s Projects (SMPs) on whatever topic that interests them. Senior and Anthropology major Katherine “Katie” Boyle is no exception and her project dives into the ancient world of Greece and their entertainment.

Boyle has always been interested in Roman and Greek entertainment, specifically naumachia or gladiatorial combat. In 2009, she took a trip to Tunisia for her Latin class and explored the Roman amphitheater El Djem. This would later spark her continued interest in amphitheaters.

The theater of Ancient Corinth in Greece and whether or not naumachia or other aquatic events could have been possible there is the subject of her project. Many sources have conflicting information on the uses of the Corinth Theater and this conflict is the center of her paper. While on the Greek study tour offered by the history department at St. Mary’s, a site report assignment led Boyle to the Corinth Theater as well as the theater at Delphi.

“Gladiatorial combat is a very interesting topic to me and I wanted to know if there was any truth if behind naumachia was held [at the Corinth Theater],” Katie said when asked what inspired her to research the fascinating Greek staple.

Anthropology projects will begin to be presented Friday, May 5, in Kent 316. It will be interesting to see if Katie Boyle sheds more light on to the ancient uses of Greek and Roman theaters and amphitheaters, and whether her question about naumachia will be answered.