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XXI

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Sacrificial Implements

Sacrificial and augural instruments, as sacerdotal insignia, symbolized the authority, responsibility and piety of the issuer as Pontifex Maximus, priest or augur on coins of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Lepidus, Augustus, Caligula, Vespasian, Nerva, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Caracalla, Geta, Philip IIVolusian, Saloninus, Valerian II. Pontius Pilate used the lituus as his obverse type on his prutot.  

Acerra: incense-box.

Apex: The apex was a leather skull-cap worn by the Pontifex Maximus (head Roman priest) and flamen (Roman priests), with a chin-strap and a point of olive wood on its top, like a spindle, with a little fluff of wool at the base of the spindle.

Ara: altar.

Aspergillum: The aspergillum also called an Adspersorium, was a stick with long horse-hair attached at one end, which the Romans priests used to sprinkle holy water on those who assisted at the sacrifices, and also to throw the lustral water over the altar and the sacrificial animals.

Lituus: The lituus was augural staff, like a Bishop's crosier, but shorter, which the augur held in his hand, whilst describing and measuring the different regions of the sky. It was the insignia of the augur and an insignia of the Pontifex Maximus.

Patera: The patera was as round shallow dish or bowl used by the Romans at religious ceremonies, either in making libations of wine to the gods, or in receiving the blood of sacrificial animals. On coins, the patera is placed in the hands of rulers and priests as an attribute of their religious functions and in the hands of deities as a symbol of the divine honors rendered to them. It was similar to the Greek phiale.

Praefericulum: The praefericulum was a metal vase used by the Roman augurs and priests at their sacrifices.  It had a prominent mouth, and an ear or handle like our modern ewers; and in it was put the wine or other liquors dedicated to libations.

Secespita: The secespita was a long knife with a round ivory handle, ornamented with gold or silver, which the priests used at sacrifices to slaughter sacrificial animals and to extract their entrails.

Securis: The securis was an axe used to slaughter sacrificial animals.

Simpulum: The simpulum was a ladle or cup with a very long handle, used at sacrifices, to take the wines and other liquors from a crater or anther deep vessel, to make libations, to taste, and to pour on the head of sacrificial animals. It is the insignia of priesthood, and one of the insignia of the college of pontiffs.

Tripos: tripod.

Urceus: The urceus was a water jug (or pitcher or ewer) used to hold holy water used in sacrifices. 

Also see: Pontificalia Signa.