Funerary altar of Caetennia Pollitta

Funerary altar of Caetennia PollittaFunerary altar of Caetennia Pollitta

The altar for the Roman girl Caetennia Pollitta, who died very young, is one of the most moving funerary monuments in the NMA. Caetennia, daughter of Publius, died at the early age of ten years and six months, as we can read from the inscription. Her exquisite little face is beautifully rendered. The monument, a memorial stone, had found a place in the family vault. Her relatives visited this place at certain times in order to pour out libations for their deceased family members.

The altar

The altar has the shape of a rectangular stone (cippus), crowned with a pillow-shaped decoration featuring a roll on either side. At the front of these we find rosettes and a wreath decked out with ribbons. On top there is a hollow in which libations like wine could be poured out. This was done with cups and dishes, depicted on the two short sides of the altar: a sacrificing dish (patera) and a jug, worked out in relief.

A little girl

The girl is portrayed in high relief in a medallion-shaped niche. The girl's soft features are very striking: a small nose, delicate lips and dreamy eyes. In her hair she is wearing a piece of jewelry. The altar was found during the construction of a number of houses behind the thermae of the Roman emperor Caracalla.

Object: Altar
Dating from: 100
Material: Marble 
Size: 78 x 48 x 37cm
Origin: Italy, Roma
Collection: Classical antiquity
Code: K 1951/12.1