An archaic earache

This strange terracotta ear may look like it is missing from a statue; however it is likely to have been a practical item rather than being used for decoration. The ear is thought to have been a votive offering, possibly as a medicinal aid.

By depositing the perfect model of an ear, probably in a holy place or on an altar, the owner was probably asking the Gods to help heal the ear in real life – quite literally meaning that they wanted their ear to be just like the perfect model. This practice is known as a form of sympathetic magic and was commonplace in the ancient world.

The ear was unearthed in Lanuvium, Italy during Lord Savile’s excavations carried out in the 1800s and is likely to have been found near a temple complex. It is about the size of an adult human ear.
LEEDM.D.1964.0733

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jenny Hack says:

    Looks like a cast from a real ear, the photo is deceptive – is it a positive or negative shape?

    Like

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