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+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno
+39 0736 253562
Piazza Arringo, 28 - 63100 Ascoli Piceno

The funerary customs


Death as an opportunity to make eternal the memory of the actions performed in life. This is the meaning of the numerous funerary inscriptions that retrace the phases of the cursus honorum (the political career of Roman citizens). They could be carved on small cippi; on more complex monuments such as stelae with the portray of the deceased; or even on burial buildings decorated with statues such as the one representing a toga wearing citizen.  The cemeteries were placed outside the city along its access routes due to religious and sanitary reasons; indeed, the largest found until now are located in the north, in today’s Campo Parignano neighbourhood, and in the west, outside Porta Gemina or Romana.
Depending on the period, burial or cremation was part of the funerary customs.   The two fine-designed cineraria were used in the second process to contain the ashes of the deceased.

Masterpieces

Sundial

Falerone (FM) – Piane Travertine – bebinning
1st century AD

Unearthed at the dig of the ancient Roman city of Falerio Picenus in the 1950s, the sundial is a solar clock with a shape of hemicyclium, and it consists of a parallelepiped in which was excavated a concave part, i.e. the hemicycle. It is divided into 12 parts by 11 carved lines that run from the middle point on top. Here, a gnomon was placed; the gnomon is a horizontal stick that pointed south whose shadow projected on the quadrant indicated the time. The eleven lines are crossed by the other lines that indicate the solstices and the equinox. Daytime and nighttime were divided into 12 parts each. Since the length of an hour varies according to the season, the daytime twelve hours could have been longer or shorter than the nighttime twelve hours. For example, daytime hours lasted longer than the nighttime ones during summer time while the opposite was true in winter time. For this reason, solar clocks measure time according to Earth’s rotation. Moreover, since the sun moves differently across the sky depending on the latitude, time changed according to the location; therefore, it was necessary to design every sundial for the specific location where it had to be placed, and to correctly point in order to tell the precise time.

Cinerary urn

Monteprandone (AP) – Centobuchi
Travertine – end of 1st century AD

Cinerary urns are common in the southern part of Marche, and they are among monuments that are better understood. This one was found in the 19th century in the territory of the Roman city of Castrum Truentinum, which had been built on the delta of River Tronto. It is a vessel that has a cylindrical shape, and is closed by conic lid. It must have been used to contain ashes and bones (just as the carved inscription states) of a deceased 3-year-old child. His name, Teopompo, and the name of his parents, Teopompo and Attice, have a Greek origin; they might have been slaves or freedmen who were members of a privileged group of educated servants, often used as teachers, doctors, or public officials. The urn is decorated with a wreath of flower blossoms and oak leaves. This is a decorative design commonly used for Augustan propaganda, which often employ naturalistic motifs. Its convex lid is covered with a radiant acanthus leaves layout. It is a product by local workshops where the influences of the northern Italy and the one of the northern Adriatic area are clear.

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