Back to menu | Back to clickable plan | Back to topic (Christianity)

Regio IV - Insula I - Tempio della Magna Mater (IV,I,1)

The Temple of the Magna Mater is situated at the west side of the Campus of the Magna Mater. In front of the temple is a large masonry altar (opus reticulatum, decorated with marble). Here two honorary statues were once standing, of P. Claudius Veratus Abascantianus and P. Claudius Horatius Abascantianus. The statues were erected by their father, P. Claudius Abascantianus, a high official in the guild of the dendrophori. One of the inscribed marble bases, with the consular date 194 AD, can still be seen near the temple. In the other inscription are the words ... in campo Matris deum ....

The temple has a podium of opus latericium with a cornice, and with three large niches in each of the sides and the back. The red bricks are Hadrianic, but they cover an older podium (opus reticulatum). At the front is a wide staircase, decorated with marble. It is interrupted by a landing, 2 meters deep. On each side of the landing a rectangular hole was found. Small pine-trees or flowers may have been planted here. Of the temple itself not much has been preserved (opus latericium, max. h. c. 0.70). According to Visconti there was an ante-room, preceding a cella with niches in the side walls (7.30 x 6.50). The cult statue was in the back of the cella, on a base. It is noteworthy that the temple was smaller than the podium.

Plan of the temple. From Vermaseren 1977, fig. 23.

Many dedications by the guild of the cannophori were found in the central niche in the back wall of the podium, walled in. Presumably they had been hidden in late antiquity, out of fear that they would be destroyed by Christians. Nearby, behind the temple, dedications by the dendrophori were found. Several deities are mentioned: Magna Mater, Attis, Virtus, Silvanus, Numen domus Aug., Genius decurionum Ostiensium. Some were made for the well-being of the Emperor. The seats of these two guilds must have been nearby, but have not yet been found or identified.

In the western part of the campus several bronze and marble statues and statuettes were found in an unspecified location, of Magna Mater, Minerva, Mars, the Dioscures, Aesculapius, Diana, and also of Emperors.


The remains of the temple, seen from the east.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The podium of the temple seen from behind, from the west.
To the left are the three niches in the back of the podium.
In the central one many votive offerings had been hidden in late antiquity.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

A dedication from 194 AD by P. Claudius Abascantianus,
near the temple (CIL XIV, 325, cf. 326). Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

A statue of the Magna Mater / Cybele (h. 0.98), possibly from Ostia.
From Rieger 2004, Abb. 123.

Portrait of Antinous, found on the Campo della Magna Mater.
Rome, Museo Nazionale. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

Portrait of Vespasianus, found on the Campo della Magna Mater.
Rome, Museo Nazionale. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 8-Feb-2004]