#9.1: Pozzi Rituali

Pozzi Rituali are 'Ritual Pits' that tie in to the three Rostra (the Comitium's, Julius Caesar's and Augustus') so I'll start with them.

Ok now, walk back over to the Custodian Shack/so-called Temple of Janus. Look towards the Arch, to the left of it in the Forum Square is what looks like a long, high, brown stone wall.

That is the Rostra', a stage speaking platform. Now I want you at the rail fence of the Custodian Shack looking at the *center* of the Rostra of Caesar.

Now look at your feet, slowly bring your eyes up. In the Via Sacra there are four missing paving stones forming a straight line across the Via Sacra. Basically from the rail fence over to the slight left of that tall marble pedestal base. Easy to spot, the missing paving stones form a perfect dirt square/rectangle among the odd shaped paving stones. Still against the fence line yourself up with them and look towards the Rostra of Caesar, notice just past that tall marble pedestal slightly to the left of it is a rail fence forming a square around a brick-lined hole. Keep that in mind for later.

Ok back to our four dirt squares in the Via Sacra, they are four of six 'Pozzi Rituali' (Ritual Pits).

***I mentioned them earlier as a series of covered holes in which possibly the remains of sacrificed animal's (burned?) entrails (intestines) or organs might have deposited after being used by the Priests to look for signs from the Gods in them. But since then I came across this info from nineteenth Century excavation that DOES put animal bones in the Comitium's Pozzi Rituali at the end of the Republic. These pits were the ones covered-over by Julius Caesar's paving-over of the old Comitium and so were frozen in time since the 40's BC.

From the 'Topography of Ancient Rome' (in the Public Domain for decades)

"When discovered most of the Pits on the Comitium were filled with rubbish of the End of the Republic, in which fragments of bones, POTSHERDS, etc".

Ok, this is what Boni* had to say about the Potsherds and he was *The Man* when it came to excavating the Roman Forum.

"They contained great numbers of Chalice-Shaped terra cotta vessels, such as might have been used for pouring libations. Boni believes that these pits had some religious significance and terms them Pozzi Rituali".
(*Commendatore Giacomo BONI (1859-1925) Italian architect, archaeologist, Director excavations in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (buried there), Member- Superior Council of Antiquities and Fine Arts, Minister of Public Instruction, Royal Commissioner- Monuments of Rome.) Also *if* the burned organic entrails were deposited in them 2000 years ago no evidence could be *seen* in the nineteenth Century. But with today's technology microscopic trances could be found I'd assume? Also I could be wrong but I thought I once read of a nineteenth Century excavation of one of the Pozzi Rituali by the Basilica Julia in which potsherds were also found?

Go to (sorry, broken link). See six of them labeled as 'Pits (Doliola)'. I'll have to look for that lone pit to the right of the line next time I'm in the Forum. I just discovered this photo and what is really interesting is on the other side of the Forum there is a row of pits with a lone pit off to the side like in that photo but that lone pit is intact and actually in the Forum. These Pits were in front of the Comitium Rostra and excavations under the Comitium place these Pits 6.75 m / 22 feet in front of the Rostra. So if you line yourself up and stand between the third and fourth Pit facing the Comitium, you can see roughly where this Rostra stood and the angle it faced the Forum Square at.

Now when Julius Caesar built his new Rostra of Caesar in the Forum Square he needed new Pits in that area.

Look at the Rostra. What you are seeing was built by Augustus but if you chop the front 10 m off it you will be at the Rostra built by Caesar. Caesar's was just as long but very narrow, Augustus enlarged upon it making it more like a stage.

Walk over to the right of the large pedestal base (you will backtrack to this pedestal base later on after the Rostra tour) and look into the Forum at that small square fenced-in area surrounding a modern brick-lined hole (results of modern excavations of the Pits). To the right of it are two more brick-lined holes which are filled-in with no fence.

Also between the first fenced-in one and the pedestal base was the where the first one in the line was located (based on earlier photos). Those are four of six of the Pozzi Rituali that were for the narrower Julius Caesar Julius Caesar Rostra. When Augustus enlarged the Rostra by 10 m *it's claimed* he built-over the other two of the six Pits. And he put in six new Pits directly in front of his Rostra.

But Caesar it seems instead of putting his Pits directly in front (left to right) like at the Comitium Rostra and this later Augustus Rostra put his on a 45° angle. This angle lines up his Pits with the older Pits that were in front of the older and now replaced Comitium Rostra.

So it seems that the six original Comitium are in line with the six new Julius Caesar Rostra pits making a straight line of twelve. Also six Pits seems to be the magic number with these lines of Pits, so perhaps lining his six Pits up to these older six Pits was symbolic? Now walk over to between the other marble base (square with people sculptured on the sides and a round column base on top of it) and the Rostra. Look across the Forum in front of the extended Augustus' Rostra, there are six Pits in line directly in front of the Rostra. But only two are really visible, they are the second and third Pit. Follow the line of the Julius Caesar Pits towards the Rostra and you will see the second Pit which is just four paving stones forming a dirt square in the center x. And just past it the third Pit formed the same way meaning a paving stone on the top, bottom and one on each side []x[]. What's interesting is Augusus' second Pit lines up perfectly with where Julius Caesar's second Pit should be? It seems that Augustus tied Caesar's six Pits in with his own six pits. Symbolically tying in the Comitium Rostra Pits and the Julius Caesar's Rostra of Caesar Pits with the Augustus' Rostra Pits? Basically twelve pits in line ============ with Augustus' six pits cutting through at an angle // and both sharing their second pit


It looks like Julius Caesar's first Pit would be completely or partially built-over by the front of the Augustus Rostra?

Next: #9.2: Rostra
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