Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Newcastle University's online course, Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier. Join the course to learn more.

Anatomy of an altar

To read an altar, we must first become familiar with its anatomy. For alongside the text inscribed on the die, we can also ‘read’ the function of the object from its shape and decoration.

The anatomy of an altar Laser scans of the four faces of the altar to Antenociticus from Benwell, Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne. © NU Digital Heritage

  • Focus : bowl shaped depression to receive offering
  • Pulvini: bolsters, depicted here as bunches of incense
  • Capital: the head of the altar
  • Die: inscribed surface
  • Base: The lower section of the altar. Some altars stood on a specially made platform

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

Newcastle University

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: