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Feet and fertility in the healing temples: a symbolic communication system between gods and men?
  1. Marco Cilione1,
  2. Silvia Marinozzi2,
  3. Valentina Gazzaniga1
  1. 1 Unit of History of Medicine and Bioethics, Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  2. 2 Unit of History of Medicine and Bioethics, Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Silvia Marinozzi, Unit of History of Medicine and Bioethics, Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome 00185, Italy; silvia.marinozzi{at}uniroma1.it

Abstract

Anatomical ex-votos of feet have always been interpreted as representing the unhealthy part of the body for which patients were asking healing. However, according to the archaeological data and literary sources, another interpretation is also possible: the purpose of this article is to focus on the strong relationship between feet and fertility in the ancient world by cross-referencing the available archaeological evidence with the scientific data relating to this topic. That shed light on an important aspect of the Healing Temples in Greek and Roman medicine.

  • ancient medicine
  • cultural studies
  • literature and medicine
  • art and medicine

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Footnotes

  • Contributors The idea was conceived by VG, director of the research; MC performed a philological analysis of the ancient literary sources and prepared the manuscript; SM carried out data from ancient Roman ex-votos and guarantees the originality of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note The submitted article is a step of the PRIN (Research National Project) 2015 on the lifestyle in ancient Rome and the relationship between culture, diseases and medicine.

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