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Dedication and portrayal of sacrificial rite from Bridgeness (RIB 2139)


The inscription, flanked by infantry shields called peltas, honors the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius and records the construction by the 2nd Legion of a section of the wall from Bridgeness, Scotland, at the east end of the Antonine Wall. A sculptured panel on the left depicts a cavalry soldier galloping over four native Britons. The relief panel on the right (seen here) shows a purification ritual called a souvetaurilia, with a bull and sheep being led to sacrifice at an altar. In this rare portrayal of the ceremony, while one priest plays a double flute, another pours a libation over the altar, probably devoted to the Roman war god Mars.

The inscription (with typical abbreviations) reads "For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, the Second Legion Augusta built (this work) for a distance of 4,652 paces."

[Fig.1: Dedication slab from Bridgeness (RIB 2139; National Museum of Scotland).]

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