The jar of the foundational sacrifice of the Allon baths is the jar of the haruspex. Archaeologists found this jar, of great symbolic value, in the ditch where the foundations of the great high- imperial baths of the Roman municipium of Allon were laid. The jug contained the remains of a piglet and the skull of a small dog, undoubtedly sacrificed by an augur of the city to receive the omens for the construction of the new building. The animals sacrificed, according to the Roman tradition, must be white.
This single-handled jug with a flat mouth (which archeologists usually call "olpe") is decorated with red paint based on iron oxide, and although it can be dated towards the end of I A.D., it is a later evolution of the Iberian ceramic decoration. We can see a series of birds (by the neck, they must be vultures) with their wings spread, flying from left to right, this was normally considered by the Romans such a favorable omen (remember the legend of the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus). When they fly, they leave behind the tail a trail of air loops that remind us of the representation of a fast movement like in modern cartoons.
The jar is the testimony of a very important event for the municipality. A local priest had the honor and responsibility to discover whether the gods approved the planned date of construction of the new public baths, a monumental building that was a great investment. This priest, known as a haruspex, sacrificed a white puppy and a piglet to know the will of the gods from his guts. The haruspex carefully chose the jug, where the vultures fly from the left. This drawing represents another ancient ceremony that was done to "take the auspices". The word "auspice" comes from auis (bird) and spicio (to look), so it consisted of looking at the sky to see the birds fly. We do not know if this ceremony was also performed for the baths, but we can imagine this scene happened since it explains the decoration of the jar.
In the auspices each step had a meaning. It was not convenient to anger or misunderstood the gods: making a mistake or skipping a single step could have terrible consequences. For a start, you had to find a high place, with a good view of the sky and that was inside the city. The alonites surely had a fixed place for these ceremonies, an "auguraculum". In the next step, the augur had to be positioned facing south, which in Allon meant looking out to the sea. And he divided the sky into four parts with his lítuo, the curved cane that would pass to the Christias bishops later. Then he would sit down and wait for the message from the gods, with the expectation of the entire neighborhood. It was a solemn act, the gods were going to pronounce themselves.
Probably the result was favorable, since the baths were built. If the birds came from the east it was a good sign, to be sure, but the east is on the left side if you look out to the sea. And for Roman culture the left side was the sinistra, that means, the evil or sinister side. However, the gods sent the birds from her right, and therefore mortals saw them appear from the east.
Height: 207 mm; diam. boca: 69 mm
Nº inv. Vilamuseu 008303