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The Temple Pediment of the Temple Sulis Minerva at Bath

The Temple Pediment of the Temple Sulis Minerva at Bath - www.joyofmuseums.com - Roman Baths (Bath)

This Temple Pediment was at the front of the “Temple of the Temple Sulis Minerva” at Bath and is one of the few genuinely classical temples from Roman Britain to have been discovered. Nearly 2,000 years ago it housed that the statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva. The pediment carries the image of a fearsome head carved in Bath stone, and it is thought to be the Gorgon’s Head which was a potent symbol of the goddess Sulis Minerva.

The pediment is full of allusions and was supported originally by four massive columns. The central image is either a male Gorgon or an image of a Celtic-Roman water god which looked on to all who entered the temple, with snakes entwined within its beard and portrayed with a heavy moustache. The central head is held aloft by female ‘Victories’, on a shield ringed with oak leaves. The Victories stand on globes and in the corners are Tritons, half men and half fish servants of the water god Neptune.

Gorgon's Head of the Temple Sulis Minerva at Bath - www.joyofmuseums.com - Roman Baths (Bath)

The first shrine, at the site of the hot springs at Bath, was built by Celts and dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town’s Roman name of Aquae Sulis “the waters of Sulis”. The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                      The Temple Pediment of the Temple Sulis Minerva
  • Medium:               Stone
  • Date:                      c. 100 AD
  • Museum:              Roman Baths Museum

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Photo Credit: By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons