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Marble plaque showing parturition scene, Ostia, Italy, 400 BCE-300 CE

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This marble plaque depicts a ‘parturition’, or birthing scene. Such scenes eased the fears of expectant mothers by depicting positive birthing images. During this time, midwives were female. Men were not present at births unless a doctor was required in the case of a high status mother. Here, a woman reclines on a couch covered in drapes, attended by three women. They are dressed in classical Roman robes and one is holding the baby. The plaque was excavated at Ostia, Italy.

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Glossary: parturition

The act or process of giving birth to a child

Glossary: plaque

An ornamental tablet of metal, porcelain etc that depicts a person, scene or inscription. Often fixed to a building in commemoration of a person or notable historical occurence.

Glossary: relief sculpture

No description.