chapter  13
28 Pages

URBAN, SUBURBAN AND RURAL RELIGION IN THE ROMAN PERIOD

ByAlastair M. Small

The Vesuvian sites offer us a wonderfully vivid picture of Roman religion in theLate Republic and Early Empire.1 It is, however, an incomplete, and perhaps even a distorted picture, for much of the evidence has been irretrievably lost. Most of the marble fittings, statues and inscriptions were stripped from the temples of Pompeii after the eruption, and many of the minor artifacts and almost all the biological remains which might have yielded evidence for cult practices vanished without trace when the ruins of the most important sanctuaries were excavated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although two-thirds of the urban area have been excavated, it is certain that many cult buildings, including some of the most important, remain to be discovered.2 In Herculaneum, where less than half the city has been excavated, no public temple has yet been uncovered except for two small shrines in the Area Sacra Suburbana overlooking the sea.