Archaeologists have excavated an ancient sanctuary located near geothermal springs in the Italian municipality of San Casciano dei Bani. Researchers managed to find more than three thousand coins, as well as sacrificial bronze artifacts in the form of various parts of the human body: ear, leg, uterus and phallus. In this way, during the Roman era, people expected to get rid of diseases, reports the Italian agency ANSA. San Casciano dei Bani is located in the Italian province of Siena. It is known for its geothermal springs, which people have been using since the time of the Etruscans.
Archaeological excavations have revealed open-air baths, remains of Roman baths, as well as a multi-layered Roman sanctuary built under Octavian Augustus on the site of an even older sanctuary dating back to Etruscan times. In the 1st century AD this cult complex was seriously damaged by fire, after which it was restored and expanded. At the beginning of the 4th century it was rebuilt again, but towards its end it was destroyed, which was obviously connected with the Christianization of the area. The research of this monument has already brought many valuable finds. For example, a large number of coins were found, three altars dedicated to Apollo, Isis and Fortuna Primigenia, a marble statue of the goddess Hygia. A large number of gifts show that the sanctuary was of great importance and was used, among other things, to perform rites of worship at the hot springs. This year, archaeologists are already conducting the sixth season of excavations at this monument. Among the new finds were more than three thousand coins, bronze objects in the shape of different parts of the body, for example legs, ears, penis and uterus. The researchers note that offerings at places associated with healing are often made in the form of objects depicting diseased body parts. For example, a sacrificial rare bronze uterus was apparently intended to aid in the birth of a child. Similar objects, but made of terracotta, have sometimes been found by scholars in Etruscan and Roman temples.
This season, archaeologists significantly expanded the excavation area, as a result of which they managed to find evidence of a major collapse that occurred at the end of the III century. Then a hole with a depth of more than two meters was formed in the ground, which damaged the surrounding buildings – pools, colonnades and buildings. The Romans then built an altar in the funnel itself to appease the displeased deities. The revealed scale of the sanctuary, according to archaeologist Jacopo Taboli, turned out to be much larger than expected. According to him, this monument has no analogues either in Italy or in the Mediterranean.