ARCH1 Key Words with Roman Examples

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Ancestor/Ancestor Cult

In the context of religion and ritual, ancestor and ancestor cult can be defined as the worship of the male ancestors as the head of the family by the current generation, to show continuity between generations. They can also gain spiritual guidance for the present time or to assist ancestors in their afterlife. These can be linked to funerary ritual due to them being brought out at special occasions, and links to the afterlife. A Roman example of this can be found in the Barbarini Statue dating to the 1st Century AD was discovered. The statue depicts a male figure holding two male heads either side of his body, suggested to be the heads of two of his ancestors. These two heads are of different styles, which suggests the ancestors are from different time periods. This staue would have been brought out at special occasions, such as weddings, to include them in the celebrations, and would alsoo show the family lineage to visitors to the home.


In the context of religion and ritual, animism can be defined as the belief that nature is enlivening or energising by distinct personalised spirit beings separable from bodies, and are involved in daily affairs. These are thought to live in animals, plants, and humans, as well as natural places. A Roman example of this is in the House of Vetti, Pompeii, with the Lares and Penates fresco. The fresco depicts two Lares dancing and drinking from horns, surrounding a genius suggested to be the leader of the household. The Lararium shows ritual significance due to its design in the form of a temple, and it's creation shows how involved deities were in daily family life.

Art and Iconography

In the context of religion and ritual, art and iconography can be defined as the study behind the meanings of images from different cultures, including symbols as well as writing systems. The images were commonly found in sacred places in the past to communicate essential truths and propaganda to a people who were illiterate. An example of this can be seen at the Temple of Mithras, Ostia, with the mosaic of initiation. The seven stages of initiation ranges from the raven to the father, and has been suggested that at each stage, a different ceremony or task took place for the initiate to pass onto the next stage.


In the context of religion and ritual, cremation can be defined as the disposal of a dead body specifically by burning it to destroy the flesh amd a large part of the bone. This releases the body from its earthy 'prison' to allow it to pass on to the afterlife. There are two types of cremation; Ustrium and Bustum. Bustum cremations are found containing remnants of the funeral pyre along with thw cremated remains, whereas Ustrium crematios have only the cremated remains, but may contain the remains of multiple people. The Romans favoured cremations due to the lack of space for inhumations. An example


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