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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits
in Europe

Sistrum

Height: 23.000 cm

GR 1756.1-1.541

Sistrum

From: Rome, Italy
Date: 1st-2nd centuries AD

This is a rattle made of bronze, called a sistrum. When waved about, the bars rattle loudly together. It was used in the worship of the goddess Isis.

The Romans worshipped many different gods based on nature, and as they conquered new lands they sometimes borrowed gods from these countries. Rome conquered Egypt in 30BC. Isis was an important goddess from ancient Egypt who was responsible for the family, and she became a popular Roman goddess. There was a temple to Isis in every major Roman city, including Pompeii, where wall paintings show priests holding rattles just like this one.