DAL SANGARIO ALL’ALMONE: LA LAVATIO DEUM MATRIS
This article investigates the reasons why, on the journey from Pessinus to Rome (204 BCE), the simulacrum of Cybele, consisting of a black stone and its silver setting, stopped at the Almo river; the ceremony of the washing of the icon would then take place there every year. It argues that the cause lies in the coincidence between the environmental conditions of the area of Phrygia (in which stood the sanctuary from which the sacred stone originated), which is crossed by the Sangarius and Gallus rivers, and those of the Caffarella valley. In both cases, the presence of acidic springs is significant, since the high concentration in such springs of nitrum, a substance used in ancient times as a detergent, can serve not only as a treatment for some diseases, but also (and especially) as an antioxidant for silver. The lavatio in Rome therefore repurposed a Phrygian ceremony, in a natural environment with characteristics similar to those of its origin.