Breastfeeding "in couple" : interpretations of votive statuettes from ancient Latium and Southern Etruria of a breastfeeding woman with a man and of two women breastfeeding
This article investigates an uncommon type of ex-voto that represents a breastfeeding woman with a man or two women breastfeeding. This type of statuette has been found only in ancient Latium and Southern Italy and has never been studied in its entirety. Taking into consideration a number of variables (mothering; biological link; social status; cultural aspects; place of provenance [urban and non-urban spaces]; public or private spheres; kind of deities and, if applicable, rituals performed to honor them; other kinds of votives), the article will attempt to reconstruct the performance of religious practices that involved the offering of these votives. It is argued that offspring were at the core of family life in an extended way and that these votive items were used by family members –– not only the mother –– to communicate with religious entities about issues concerning infants and their wellness. In this regard, breastfeeding is crucial.
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