This valuable piece of sculpture represents the twelve gods of the Roman pantheon.
Its purpose is unknown, maybe it functioned as the brink of a well or an Zodiac altar.
It's adorned with bust of the twelve principal divinities of the Greeks and Romans, namely Jupiter, Minerva, pollo, Juno, Neptune, Vulcan, Mercury, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Mars and Venus with Cupid behind her shoulder.
It was excavated by G. Hamilton in 1792 at Gabii an ancient city of Latium, located 18 km (11 mi) due east of Rome, Italy.
This piece of art was purchased for the Louvre by Napoleon.
On top within the ring of divine heads, there is a shallow sinking with narrow slits at the bottom used to a toothed metal plague, now lost.
Herodotus mentioned an 'Altar of twelve gods', according to Herodotus-, while "the Athenians were making sacrifices to the twelve gods, they (the Plataeans) sat at the altar as suppliants and put themselves under protection."
See yesterday's image of the day