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History: The Death of a Vestal Virgin

7 May, 2008

Well here we are, at the final section introduction, with what I feel is an appropriately attention-grabbing title. The week is about to come full circle and we’ve arrived at history and archaeology.

So, the introductory bit – I’ll keep this short. The reason I’ve chosen to include this as one of my topics is the simple fact that my degree subject is Ancient History and Archaeology. I’m particularly interested in the ancient Romans (Roman religion will be my dissertation topic next year, focusing on either the imperial cult or Mithraism) but am also quite partial to a bit of British prehistory.

Incidentally, it’s these two subjects which I’ve been revising today, as exams loom closer: the status of the Vestal Virgins in ancient Rome and the settlement patterns of Iron Age Britain. The latter doesn’t have much in the way of juicy details, but did you know that the punishment for a Vestal Virgin losing their virginity was to be buried alive? Not only that, but the authorities buried the offending Vestal in a furnished room, complete with small quantities of food, to maintain the illusion that they weren’t really executing the woman.

There you go – my historical nugget for the day. When I’ve got the energy, I’ll try to make these historical pieces a bit longer and more detailed, but for now, that’s your lot.


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