The altar for the Roman girl Caetennia Pollitta, who died very young, is one of the most moving funerary monuments in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. Caetennia, daughter of Publius, died at the early age of ten years and six months, as we can read from the inscription. Her exquisite little face is beautifully rendered. The monument, a memorial stone, had found a place in the family vault. Her relatives visited this place at certain times, in order to pour out libations for their deceased family members.
The altar has the shape of a rectangular stone (cippus), crowned with a pillow shaped decoration featuring a roll on either side. At the front of these we find rosettes and a wreath decked out with ribbons. On top there is a hollow in which libations like wine could be poured out. This was done with cups and dishes, depicted on the two short sides of the altar: a sacrificing dish (patera) and a jug, worked out in relief.
The girl is portrayed in high relief in a medallion-shaped niche. The girl’s soft features are very striking: a small nose, delicate lips and dreamy eyes. In her hair she is wearing a piece of jewelry. The altar was found during the construction of a number of houses behind the thermae of the Roman emperor Caracalla.


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