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Votive male torso, Roman, 200 BCE-200 CE

This terracotta male torso is dissected to show the internal organs of the abdomen, especially the intestines and guts. This votive was reputedly excavated from Isola Farnese, near Rome, Italy, sometime during 1871-1900. Objects like this 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.

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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.