Anatomical Ex-Votos as a Reflection of "Religious Romanization"? Reappraising a Central Italian Practice


  • Luca Ricci


This article seeks to provide a new analysis for the phenomenon of anatomical votive offerings in Central Italy. Traditionally, these items’ distribution was examined in relation to Roman colonization. Simply put, the extension of Rome’s power into Central Italy and the consequent establishment of colonial settlements were thought to be the foundational causes behind the popularity of these votives. This paper debunks such a view, examining the evidence in light of production, distribution and consumption. By doing so, the failures and unsuitability of Romanocentric explanations will become apparent: namely, Rome’s centrality played a limited role at all three aforementioned levels. What the evidence highlights, instead, is a more dynamic interplay among various Central Italian settlements, further emphasizing the importance of localized decision-making. The final result is the formation of a Central Italian koine in which these localized strands took part.