The sanctuary and the votive deposit
Modern reconstructive work on the 18th – 19th century building at the back of the convent of Santa Lucia has brought to light the remains of a sanctuary, perhaps a tesmophorion, of which remain two foundations and a votive deposit. The foundations, in limestone and earth, probably supported a small building with elevation in mud brick or in the “telaio” technique. The building technique and an architectonic fragment found in context permit a dating of the building to the late-archaic period. The structure was destroyed between the end of the fourth and the third centuries BC, and engulfed in a new building at the end of the third century BC.
The votive deposit is composed of a cutting (2 × 2 m), containing two different depositions. An entire amphora had been placed at the bottom of the hole, in the mouth of which was found a pipe of terracotta, perhaps used for libations. Its function was to support a pithos, which contained numerous small black glaze vases, containers in hand-made impasto, and course ware containers and cooking vases. On the inside of a vase were animal bones and ashes, sprinkled also on the interior of the pithos. A loom weight and a needle suggest that the divinity to whom the cult place was dedicated was female. Among the bones of the sacrificed animals were those of sheep and/or goats, and pigs. Of note is the discovery of numerous mandibles, all belonging to the right side of the animals. A few pieces date to the fifth century BC, while the major part of the material traces back to the fourth – third century BC. The votive deposit was created in the second half of the third century BC with older materials, immediately before which the area occupied by the small sanctuary changed its use. The deposit could have been created following a piaculum, an expiatory offering made on the occasion of the closing of the cult area.
Approximately a century later the area became occupied by a house, built in opus incertum, typical of the Praenestine buildings of the end of the second century BC. The pavements in this phase were created with irregular tesserae of white limestone, arranged “a canestro” with inserts in colored limestone. In the Imperial period a new construction was added, which remained in use until the third century. Divided into residential and productive areas, the walls of this construction were richly decorated with plaster in the Fourth Style, and were repaired between the second and third century AD.
- Sandra Gatti - Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio
- Dario Pietrafesa
- Filippo Demma
- Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio
- Società "La Contessa" s.r.l.
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