Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
Via dell'Archiginnasio 2 - 40124 Bologna

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Collections / Sections / Roman Bologna

Funerary equipment

From the Late Republic to the end of the Middle Empire, the ritual of incineration prevailed in Bolognese tombs. More specifically, it was a ritual of indirect incineration, which envisaged transporting the ashes of the dead – burnt elsewhere - and placing them in the tomb. The most frequent type of burial was a simple grave in the ground, and the remains of the dead would be sprinkled in the middle; the use of cinerary urns was less frequent. Some tombs contained grave goods to accompany the dead and they were generally standardized objects. A ritual practice typical of the Bologna area and documented in this tomb involved placing four small identical thin-walled ollas – similar to those that may have been used for funerary libations – at the four inner corners of the grave. The most recurrent objects in the tombs were oil lamps, intended to light the way on the journey to the afterlife, coins, which served as “Charon’s obol”, and unguentaria for perfumes, deposited individually in some cases and as assemblages in others.

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This burial is one of most important found in Bologna, along via A. costa, and contained not only the small ollas but also an open channel oil lamp bearing the CRESCES stamp, the potter signature, on the bottom, and a bronze coin that is no longer decipherable.


Provenance: Bologna, Arnoaldi necropolis, tomb XII/1884
Datation: 2nd century AD

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Exhibition rooms | Room XII - Roman Bologna