Terracotta votive offering of a left thumb, Roman, 100 BCE-300 CE
Objects like this thumb were left at healing sanctuaries and other religious sites as offerings to gods such as Asklepios, the Greco-Roman god of medicine. It was intended either to indicate the part of the body that needed help or as thanks for a cure. Made from bronze or terracotta, as in this case, a large range of different votive body parts 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. Perhaps this donor left the thumb because his or hers was broken or sore?
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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.