Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Most Accurate Reproduction of the Temple of Vesta

Today, the temple of Vesta is just a hole in the ground and a few columns. It's hard to picture exactly what it looked like, especially since all the reproductions conflict with each other. Which one is the most accurate?
Roman historians took pretty good notes on what the temple looked like, but there's still room for interpretation. The best source of knowledge, IMO, comes from the numerous Roman coins featured the temple of Vesta on their backs. Since the coins were made while the temple still existed, they are the most accurate images we have.

Using the coins and the research I have already done, I was able to figure out which of the reproductions I believe is the most accutate. I hope you have as much fun reading about it as I had writing about it.

As you can see, there are subtle differences in each of these pictures. The roofs are all different. Some have a grate surrounding them, some don't. Some are tall and narrow, others are squat. Some have doors, some are just open, and a few even have three doors.





Here are a few coins I found. You'll notice the roof is unanimously one level. Some of the reproductions have a second level that is subtle enough that it wouldn't show on a coin, but picture 5 is clearly out of the running.

All the roofs have something on the top. Somethimes it looks like a statue, though it's hard to tell because it's a different shape on all of them. None of the reproductions have this. Most likely, the coins are actually depicting smoke coming out the top of the temple.

I've always thought the fire was bigger than most pictures make it out to be (about the size of an average camp fire). This would have to be the case for the fire to produce that much smoke. This prooves 2., is innacurate, and probably 4.
The roofs also have some kind of decoration coming out of the sides. Only temple 1. has that.

I can't tell whether the temple had one door, three doors, or no doors. I always pictured it without a door, which is what it looks like on the coins, but that's probably just too much detail to put on a coin.

I read the temple had a grate around it, which cancels out #5., but I also know it has a wall behind that grate because the wall still exists, which cancels out #2.

With all this evidence, I can conclude that....

Number 1. is the most accurate reproduction.

Click here to see more pictures of Vestal Virgins on my Facebook page.


  1. Aww I was hoping for 5, I love that version

  2. Yeah, #5 is my favorite too. I think it captures the essence of the temple the best, just not the facts.


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