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Chapter Twelve. Veiled and unveiled: Uncovering roman influence in hellenistic Italy

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Chapter Summary

Many of the terracotta votives so characteristic of sanctuaries in Central Italy during the Hellenistic period represent worshippers. In this chapter, the author questions the extent to which veiled-head votives, and indeed the veiled sacrifice itself, represent uniquely Roman forms of ritual, and to suggest an alternative reading. The idea that the spread of veiled votive heads symbolises the Romanisation of local ritual practices originates from the observation of Pensabene that veiled heads are commonest at Rome and in territory controlled by Rome, while unveiled heads predominate in southern Etruria and Campania. Despite the near-ubiquity of terracotta votives in Italy, not a single ancient author or epigraphic text informs us about the meaning these votive heads had for their dedicants, or the rituals surrounding their deposition. On the other hand, there is abundant literary evidence for the custom of veiling at Rome.

Keywords: Central Italy; Hellenistic period; local ritual practices; rome; southern Etruria; terracotta votives; unveiled heads; veiled votive heads

10.1163/ej.9789004170452.i-292.84
/content/books/bej.9789004170452.i292_014
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