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Terracotta votive figure of a young infant, Roman, 200 BCE-200 CE

Objects like this were often left at healing sanctuaries and other religious sites as offerings to gods such as Asklepios, the Greco-Roman god of medicine. Usually as a plea for help at times of ill health or as thanks for a cure, this offering of a young swaddled infant may indicate a sick child who needs healing or was perhaps given in the hope that a woman might become pregnant. Made from bronze or terracotta, as in this case, a large range of different votives were made and offered up in their thousands. Although it originated in earlier cultures, this practice became very popular in Roman Italy – particularly between the 400s and 100s BCE.

Object number:

A636026

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    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

    Glossary: votive offering

    Objects or monuments donated by an individual for a public place or shrine. The object is usually given in gratitude for deliverance from distress.