Wax infant votives in Cyprus: ancient and modern parallels

Maureen Carroll is Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Her recent research has focused on infancy and earliest childhood in the Roman world, and she is currently working on a project entitled ‘Mater Matuta and Related Goddesses: Guaranteeing Maternal Fertility and Infant Survival in Early Roman Italy’. In this post she discusses…

Shake it till you make it: could votives have been used as rattles?

Kristel Henquet is a research masters student in archaeology and ancient history at Free University Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam & Leiden University. She specialises in votive practices and religious landscapes in Southern Italy and in this post she shares some of the research she has recently conducted at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome. When I…

Saint Bartholomew of the Groom: The Church as a Votive

Margherita Clavarino is a PhD candidate in the History of Art at the Warburg Institute, where she is researching miraculous prints in early modern Italy. She has an interest in both printed ex-votos and votive offerings related to miraculous printed imagery.  The Church of Saint Bartholomew of the Groom, in the namesake seaside town of…

Miniature mirrors: votive or apotropaic (or both)?

This week, two things reminded me of something that I have been meaning write about for The Votives Project for a while. The first was the excellent Remarkable Things conference at the University of Warwick (10th March 2018), where several papers drew attention to different types of (broadly conceived) apotropaic object. This included, for the ancient…

Are curse tablets votives?

Stuart McKie is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Manchester. He recently completed his PhD at The Open University, with a thesis entitled ‘The Social Significance of Curse Tablets in the North-Western Roman Provinces’. At last year’s combined Roman and Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (RAC/TRAC) held at the Sapienza University in…

When is a womb not a womb?

Helen King is Professor Emerita in Classical Studies at the Open University. She has a particular interest in midwifery and gynaecology and has published widely on ancient medicine and its reception, as well as gender and the history of the body. Is it time to revisit the identification of votive body parts? Specifically, votive wombs;…

Things that matter(-ed): A biography of anatomical votive reliefs

  Anne-Lieke Brem, is currently a Masters student at the University of Groningen, studying both Archaeology and Cultural Geography. Her recent research focuses on the social landscape of illness and disease in ancient Greece (500-200 BC). In this article for The Votives Project she reflects on how this project has prompted her to think more critically about the biography and…

New book on ancient anatomical votives!

Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future is a new edited volume just published by Routledge as part of a new series on ‘Medicine and the Body in Antiquity’. The volume, edited by Jane Draycott (University of Glasgow) and Emma-Jayne Graham (The Open University / The Votives Project), is based on a…

Votive visions of the body

At the risk of over-sharing, I’ve had a few health issues over the last year (I’m fine!) that have made me think in new ways about how we understand what ancient anatomical votives might tell us about how people understood their bodies and their relationship with divine healers. In the ancient world it seems to…

Votives on display (Part 2)

In ‘Votives on display (Part 1)’ I wrote quite generally about how votives might have been displayed in ancient sacred spaces. In this second part I want to try out some ideas about how particular types of ancient Italian anatomical votives might have been displayed and suggest that thinking about this might offer some new…

Votives on display (Part 1)

Last weekend I was at the 2015 Classical Association Conference in Bristol and, after my paper on the sensory experience of dedicating infant votives, I was asked a question about where these votive objects were placed and how were they ‘displayed’. If they were placed on an altar or something similar, I was asked, could…

Votives and conflict: postscript

A few weeks ago I wrote a post inspired by an article published in 1918, in which the classicist Eugene S. McCartney described some of the votive objects and dedicatory activities that he had encountered at holy sites during the First World War. The sites he visited included the cathedral of St. Andre, Bordeaux (France)…

Votives and conflict

Last year, on the anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Jess Hughes wrote about votive paintings dedicated by Italian soldiers and their families. Recently, when searching for something entirely different, I stumbled across an article published in 1918 by Eugene S. McCartney. It presents an account of his personal encounters, in 1916…

Objects and Remembering

Last Friday (20th June) I attended a conference on ‘Objects and Remembering’ at the University of Manchester. The event brought together people working on the relationship between objects and memory from a number of different perspectives – archaeology, history, museum and heritage studies, forensics and geology. It was a highly stimulating day, full of lively…

Waxing lyrical on the materiality of votives

A few weeks ago I was alerted to a post on the MEDMED-L mailing list (medieval medical history) in which Jim Chevallier made the following observation: ‘In 1389, a merchant accompanying Charles VI to Avignon had a wax statue made in the ailing King’s image, as an ex-voto, to put on the tomb of Pierre…

Votives in the news

Every so often we plan to bring you a summary of recent news stories featuring votives of all types from around the world, past and present. We hope that these will showcase the many and varied ways in which votives continue to have relevance in the modern world, as well as providing a useful resource…

Wombs and tombs

A recent paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science uses DNA evidence to assert that Roman infanticide was not selective, and that girls were killed no more frequently than their brothers. The paper does not question whether infanticide was a reality of ancient life, but does stress that it was not used to ‘manipulate the…

Shadowy figures

‘Ombra della sera’, or ‘evening shadow’, is the name usually used to describe a distinctive bronze votive recovered from the region of Volterra (Etruscan Velathri, Roman Volaterrae) first exhibited in the early 18th century. The thin, elongated figure, made during the 3rd century BC, is most well-known for inspiring the work of the Swiss artist…