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date: 27 January 2020

Well-head [puteal]locked

  • Eugene Dwyer



In its most essential form, a screen-wall or parapet, analogous to a precinct wall, surrounding a taboo place in the Greek and Roman world; also a means of enclosing a well or pit (Lat. puteus) in the earth. One type, a bidental, signified a place struck by lightning, consecrated and enclosed by the priests, where propitiatory offerings were made to the lightning. The puteal Libonis (untraced) was a bidental in the Forum Romanum: it appears on coins as a parapet, circular in plan, adorned with garlands, lyres and the hammer of Vulcan. It is typical of the architectural type commonly employed by both Greeks and Romans as well-heads. Larger well-heads, such as the one found at the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste, sometimes took the form of a circular parapet supporting a monopteros. Alternatively, the well-head or parapet itself was sometimes surrounded by a monopteros or tholos (circular columnar buildings), as in the well (perhaps a ...

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G. Wissowa, W. Kroll and K. Mittelhaus, eds: Paulys Realencyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, 10 vols and suppls (Stuttgart, 1894–1978)
Enciclopedia dell’arte antica, classica e orientale, 7 vols and suppls (Rome, 1958–73)