A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Remains of Ritual Meal Found at Pompeii’s Temple of Isis
Friday, May 19, 2023
ROME, ITALY—Live Science reports that traces of a ritual banquet have been uncovered at the site of the Temple of Isis in the ancient Roman resort city of Pompeii. Analysis of the remains has identified at least eight chickens, a goose, a turtle dove, a pig, and two clams. Some of the meat would have been eaten by the priests of the Egyptian cult, while the rest would have been placed on the floor as an offering to the goddess, who was sometimes portrayed with bird wings. Birds are thought to have been central to the Isis cult and bird sacrifice a part of its rituals. “The ritual…was likely performed by three priests of Isis in a single day, possibly to atone for renovations that had made the temple slightly smaller,” said Chiara Corbino of Italy’s Institute of Heritage Science. The renovations appear to have occurred after an earthquake damaged the temple in A.D. 62, so the banquet was likely held sometime between A.D. 62 and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of the city in A.D. 79, Corbino concluded. To read about excavations in another of Pompeii's temples, go to "Digging Deeper into Pompeii's Past: Religion."
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