The Latin terms altaria (plur.) and ara (variously explained by Roman antiquarians) derive from the roots denoting ‘burning’ (of sacrificial offerings). Normally of stone, of varying size, from small cippi (stone-markers) to large structures (as the *Ara Pacis), most often quadrangular (occasionally round), and decorated with reliefs, they were dedicated to a particular deity, and stood either separately or in front of temples (inside only for incense and bloodless offerings). A separate category consists of funerary altars (also cinerary urns often had the shape of altars).Less
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