Priestly implements.


       A ladle with a long handle used in religious ceremonies to pour out wine during sacrifices. This ladle allowed the priests to taste the wine which they poured onto the head of an animal destined for sacrifice. It was one of the insignia of the college of pontiffs.

Simpulum from Arcisate treasure at the British museum.

      A staff or rod tipped with an animal tail used to purify an area or sacrificial animal by sprinkling water over it. Also one of the insignia of the college of pontiffs.

An African fly-whisk but it would look quite similar to a Roman Aspergillum.

Praeferculum or Capis
      A praeferculum is a tall vessel with wide shoulders, a narrow flat bottom, with one looping handle and a spout. It was usually made of earthenware and sealed with tar to make it waterproof. An identifying emblem of an augur, it is the jar in which he holds libations.

Four priestly implements on a coin from Vespasian (69-79 AD) left to right Simpulum, Aspergillum, Praeferculum and Lituus.

      The lituus was the wooden staff which the augur would raise to the sky to divided the expanse of heaven into regions (templum) when he would take the auspices (observe the flights of birds). This form of divination was already used by the Etruscans and that's where the lituus finds its origin. It is one of the symbols of the augur and his authority. Legend records that Romulus used a lituus at the time of Rome's foundation in 753 BC.   Cicero has left us a description of Romulus'  lituus: "Est incurvum et leviter a summo inflexum bacillum"; it is a staff, curved and slightly bent at the top. The lituus of Romulus was kept by the Salii, a college of priests, in the Curia Saliorum, on the Palatine Hill. After the temple was burnt down by the Gauls the relic was miraculously found untouched by the fire, all things around it being completely consumed and burnt.

Etruscan statue of an Augur holding a Lituus from the votive hoard of Lapis Niger, Rome. ca. 550 B.C.