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An Iseum, also spelled Isaeum, is a sanctuary (or temple) for the worshippers of the Greco-Roman goddess Isis. Isis was originally an Egyptian goddess who became hellenised and romanised. Many Iseums still exist today. The most famous remaining Italian Iseum is at Pompeii. Secluded behind a boundary wall for privacy, it consists of the temple itself, a small outhouse thought to originally contain holy water from the Nile, and a large multi-purpose cult building behind the temple which would have been used for cult meetings, banquets, etc.

The Iseum was the scene of daily ritual for Isaic priests and devotees. At the beginning of the day, devotees would arrive at Iseum and ritually wash before entering the precinct at the font provided on the threshold (perirranteria). They would then gather in the courtyard and wait for the priest to draw back the white curtain from the shrine which housed the main cultic statue of Isis. Worshippers would gaze on the statue, and this constituted the principal part of their worship as they believed that the divinity came to be present in her likeness. The priest would then dress the statue for the day in a jeweled robe adorned with vulture feathers.[1]


  1. ^ Donalson, Malcolm Drew (2003). The Cult of Isis in the Roman Empire - Isis Invicta. Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press. p. 34.