Interior Walls

Inside of Ceremonial Front
original west front

Rigorous design with exquisite carving: Like the exterior walls, the interior walls are structured within the powerful geometry of corner pilasters, base, cornice, and intermediate, horizontal stringcourse. In the interior, however, the pilaster are flat, the base plain, and the stringcourse a gentle lotus and palmette design.

The lower portion of the interior walls are thought to be an imitation in stone of wooden walls sometimes set up to delimit altar precincts (see drawing on page 3). Some scholars have suggested that there was just such a wooden precinct wall initially set up for the Ara Pacis.

The upper portion also follows a repeating pattern, but with the parts subtly varied, and with rich, symbolic imagery. Most noticeable are the elaborate, hanging festoons of wild and cultivated vegetation of all season: ivy, poppies, oak, apples, corn, figs, pomegranates, berries, and more. The design of these festoons has long been recognized as the richest and their carving the finest of the entire monument.

The festoons hang from the horns of ox skulls (bucrania), attached by ribbons, the ends of which flutter outward as if in a breeze. Above each of the festoons is a libation bowl (paterae), from which sacrificial liberations were poured.