Greeks and Romans typically made votive offerings to mark important life transitions. Votive offerings often fulfilled obligations that individuals had made while praying. Unlike sacrifices, in which a gift to the gods was destroyed, offerings were typically deposited intact in the temples. One of the primary functions of Greek and Roman temples was as a storage place for these offerings. The temples themselves were a votive offering, dedicated by the community as a whole to a particular god or goddess. This votive fragment features Harpocrates in a mysterious manner with his finger in front of his mouth. It was not uncommon to see artistic portrayals of the god expressing himself in such a way, for he was the god of secrecy.
To discover more about how terracotta statuettes were made, please visit our relevant post: The Making of Terracotta Statuettes in Antiquity.