Russell Crowe as gladiator in the 2000 film Gladiator. First gladiator school outside Rome has been discovered in Austria. Facebook/gladiatormovie

An ancient school where gladiators are thought to have been trained has been discovered in eastern Austria.

The gladiatorial school, or ludus gladiatorius, was found at the site of Carnuntum, an ancient army camp on the south bank of Danube and capital of the key Roman-era province of Pannonia.

The discovery, published in the current issue of Antiquity journal, is the first such finding outside Rome.

"A combination of non-invasive survey methods in the area to the south of the civilian town, where little was visible on the surface, led to the dramatic discovery of remains interpreted as a gladiatorial school," archaeologists noted in the journal.

Austrian archaeologists have mapped the two-storey structure of the school to reveal "astonishing" details about the life of gladiators in the second century.

The 118,400-square-foot school is complete with individual cells for the gladiators and a circular training arena in the courtyard.

The discovery suggests that ancient warriors had a hard time living in the school and that they lived like prisoners.

"It was a prison; they were prisoners. They lived in cells, in a fortress with only one gate out," lead archaeologist Wolfgang Neubauer at the University of Vienna told the National Geographic.

The gladiator school is thought to have been home to at least 80 warriors who slept in 32-square-foot cells.

The site also had heated floors for training in winters, baths, medical centres and a nearby graveyard, which archaeologists hope would throw new light into the lives of ancient warriors at the Austrian school.

Kept away from the town of Carnuntum, gladiators trained at the school for about a year before they fought at a nearby public amphitheatre.

"They weren't a team. Each one was on his own, training to fight, and learning who they would combat," Neubauer said.