In addition to the phallus, carvings discovered at Tossal de La Cala in Benidorm, Spain include a face and a cornucopia.
Amidst the impressive remains of the ancient Roman fort Tossal de La Cala in Spain, archaeologists from the University of Alicante have found echoes of its former inhabitants. Excavations of the fort revealed three carvings in the rock: a face, a phallus and a cornucopia.
According to Jesús Moratalla, the person in charge of the excavations, these sculptures constitute “a relief of exceptional historical importance”.
Archaeologists believe the three sculptures are around 2,000 years old. They measure 57 by 42 centimeters but may have once been part of something much larger. According Heritage Dailyit appears that the upper right section of the rock where the carvings were found is missing.
The missing section isn’t the only historical mystery surrounding the carvings. Archaeologists are also unsure if the carvings were simply graffiti left by a bored soldier or if they had some sort of ritual significance.
Indeed, the three sculptures could have a symbolic meaning.
As ancient origins explains, phallic imagery played an important role in ancient Roman culture. They could be used to signify fertility, power and good luck and could also be used as protection against the “evil eye”. Because of this protective element, the Romans sometimes wore phallic amulets, hung phalluses over their doorways, or incorporated them into art like frescoes.
Likewise, the symbol of the cornucopia – a horn-shaped basket overflowing with fruits, vegetables and drinks – had ritual significance for the ancient Romans. This “horn of plenty” symbolizes abundance and prosperity. According Arkeo Newsit comes from the legend of Heracles, who allegedly tore off one of the horns of the river god, Achelous.
The phallus and cornucopia, along with the face, have led some to speculate that the three sculptures could symbolize a Roman god or goddess. ancient origins theorizes that they could represent Priapus, the Greek god of fertility, who is often depicted with a cornucopia and a large phallus.
However, there are also other Roman deities depicted with the cornucopia, which represent harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance.
In any case, the three engravings discovered in Tossal de La Cala offer a fascinating look at the dramatic history of the fort.
The site, first excavated between 1940 and 1965, was probably built by a Roman general named Quintus Sertorius around 77 BC. Sertorio, a renowned Roman statesman and military commander, aligned himself with the local tribes of Hispania (present-day Spain) to rebel against the government.
Sertorio successfully fought the Roman government but was assassinated by conspirators in 72 BCE
Thus, the three sculptures discovered in Tossal de La Cala capture a striking moment in ancient Roman history. Perhaps depicting a Roman god or goddess – and perhaps made as a mark of protection as signified by the phallus – they offer a compelling look at the violent power dynamics that burned throughout Roman society.
But then again, perhaps the carvings were simply made by a Roman soldier, bored with duty, who decided to inscribe a few figures in the rock.
After reading about 2,000-year-old Roman sculptures found in Spain, learn the fascinating history of Roman graffiti found in the ruins of the doomed city of Pompeii. Or see how a statue resembling Hercules was discovered in a Roman sewer.