“BOCCA DELLA VERITÀ” – ANCIENT LIE DETECTOR
The “Bocca della Verità,” which translates to “Mouth of Truth” in English, is a famous ancient marble mask located in Rome, Italy. It is known for its distinctive appearance, with a carved human face that has an open mouth and eyes. The sculpture is believed to date back to the first century, likely to the Roman Republic period, and it is thought to have originally been part of a Roman fountain or a decorative architectural element.
The most well-known aspect of the Bocca della Verità is its folklore and popular legend. According to tradition, the sculpture was used as a lie detector of sorts during medieval times. People would place their hand inside the mouth of the sculpture, and if they were telling the truth, their hand would remain unharmed. However, if they told a lie, the mouth would supposedly snap shut, severing their hand. In reality, the sculpture doesn’t move or harm anyone’s hand, but the legend has persisted for centuries.
Today, the Bocca della Verità is a popular tourist attraction in Rome, and visitors often line up to take pictures with their hands in the sculpture’s mouth, following the tradition of telling the truth. It is located in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, and while the legend may not hold up, it remains an intriguing and iconic piece of Roman history and folklore.
Mouth of Truth (1st Century AD) is a marble mask in Rome, Italy, which stands against the left wall of portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, at Piazza della Bocca della Verità, site of ancient Forum Boarium (ancient cattle market).#archaeohistories pic.twitter.com/K2ZDGk1F7R
— Archaeo – Histories (@archeohistories) January 7, 2022