Campo della Magna Mater

Panel 42 - Location

The vast triangular open space is located in the corner between the Cardo Maximus and the walls in an outlying area of the city where eastern cults were practiced. It hosted numerous cult buildings: the temple of Cybele or Magna Mater (a fertility goddess) (A), the shrine of Attis (a mythical shepherd and lover of Cybele) (C), the temple of Bellona (the Italic goddess of war) (D) and the headquarters of the Hastiferi or lance-bearers (E), who performed religious dances during the ceremonies.

Panel 42 - Figure 1Axonometric view of the temples in the south-east corner of the sanctuary
(O. Visca)
Panel 42 - Figure 2Axonometric reconstruction of the temple of the Magna Mater
(A. Pascolini)

The cult of Cybele was introduced to Ostia in the 1st century AD, but the sanctuary itself dates to the 2nd century AD.

The initiation rituals took place in the open space of the sanctuary; they involved killing a bull and sprinkling the animal’s blood over the worshippers (taurobolia).

Panel 42 - Figure 3Statue of Cybele found at Ostia Panel 42 - Figure 4Terracotta antefix with a depiction of Cybele onboard a ship, from Ostia

See also:

The area of the eastern cults and the Porta Laurentina district