Romans in Petra

Author(s): Jenny Lewis

Theme: Who or what is God?

Main Curriculum Focus
- To investigate Ancient Roman beliefs and rituals relating to their gods.
- To explore the specific ritual of sacrifice to the Roman gods.
- To understand that the Jewish people of the time worshipped one god and had a
different set of beliefs to the Romans.

Inquiry Question
"- Why do some religions worship multiple gods and some one god?
- Why do religions have special rituals, ceremonies, clothes and places of
- What was involved in an Ancient Roman ritual of a live sacrifice ?
- How can the beliefs of one group of people upset or offend the beliefs of


The year is AD 150. The date is October 15th, the date of the annual Great Chariot Race in Petra. A noble Roman family are celebrating the victory of their chariot. They know that one of the winning horses in their chariot team must now be sacrificed to Mars, the god of war, one of the most powerful gods. They are proud that their horse is to be sacrificed as it will bring them good fortune. Part of their household comprises a family of Jewish slaves. They have served in this household for generations. One of the slaves is a boy who works in the stables, looking after the horses. His favourite horse is Mercury, a horse he has cared for since it was a foal. This is the horse that will be sacrificed at the Temple of Mars.

The noble family prepare for the sacrificial ceremony - their slaves have many jobs to do to get ready for the procession, the ritual at the temple and the banquet after the ceremony. It is the stable boy’s duty to prepare his horse - washing, grooming and decorating it ready for the ceremony. He must then lead the horse in the procession and into the temple and follow the rituals for the preparation for its death.

Powerpoint for this context - Roman Temple in Petra

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