Votives, fertility and early infancy

Resources > Votives, Fertility and Early Infancy

The inaugural seminar of The Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion took place on 14th February 2019. Professor Maureen Carroll from the University of Sheffield gave a paper entitled ‘‘Mater Matuta and her ‘Sisters’: Exploring Fertility Cults and Associated Votives in Early Roman Religion’. After the seminar, Jessica Hughes and Maureen Carroll were joined by Emma-Jayne Graham and Marion Bowman to record an audio discussion about votives, fertility and early infancy. The discussion also featured the voice of artist Tabitha Moses, talking about her work ‘The Go-Between’.

You can listen to this recording via the Soundcloud link above.

Programme structure and timecodes

0.00 Introduction; 0.31 Maureen Carroll on fertility cults in ancient Rome, and the tufa models of mothers and babies from Capua; 7.50 Marion Bowman on the cult of St Gerard Majella in Newfoundland, materiality and relationality; 13.46 Emma-Jayne Graham on swaddled infants and other votives in ancient Italic sanctuaries; 19.36 Tabitha Moses on her work ‘The Go Between’; 24.28 Studio responses to Tabitha Moses; 30.16 Emma-Jayne Graham on model of swaddled infant from Gravisca; 31.27 Marion Bowman on image of St Gerard Majella from the Placentia Bay maternity facility in Newfoundland; 33.05 Maureen Carroll on tufa statue of woman from Capua, now in the Villa Giulia museum in Rome.

See below for some further reading suggestions, as well as a selection of images featured in our discussion. You can see more of Tabitha Moses’ work on her website http://www.tabithamoses.co.uk.

Further reading and other resources

Bowman, M. (2016) ‘”He’s My Best Friend” : Relationality, Materiality, and the Manipulation of Motherhood in Devotion to St Gerard Majella in Newfoundland’ in Terry Woo & Becky Lee, eds. Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities, Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp. 3-34.

Carroll, M, (2019) ‘Mater Matuta. ‘Fertility Cults’ and the Integration of Women in Religious Life in Italy in the Fourth to First Centuries BC’ Papers of the British School at Rome, pp. 1-45.

Carroll, M. (2019) Infancy and Earliest Childhood in the Roman World. ‘A fragment of time’. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Graham, E-J. (2017) ‘Babes in arms? Sensory dissonance and the ambiguities of votive objects’, In E. Betts (ed.). Senses of the empire: multisensory approaches to Roman culture. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 122–38.

Graham, E-J. (2014) ‘Infant votives and swaddling in Hellenistic Italy’, in M. Carroll and E-J. Graham (eds). Infant health and death in Roman Italy and beyond. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary series 96, pp. 23–46.

‘Wax infant votives in Cyprus: ancient and modern parallels’ (by Maureen Carroll, for The Votives Project)

‘The Go-Between’ (by Tabitha Moses, for The Votives Project)

‘When is a womb not a womb?’ (by Helen King, for The Votives Project)

Swaddled baby votive model from Gravisca, now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale Tarquiniense (inv. no. 72/26805 and 72/26811)

Swaddled baby votive model from Gravisca, now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale Tarquiniense (inv. no. 72/26805 and 72/26811)

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