Mars of Todi
In ancient Italic religion lightning was sacred, as it was connected to the chief sky god, called Iuppiter (Jupiter) by the Romans and Tinia by the Etruscans. Thus on occasions when lightning struck the Earth, the spot which—or the object which—the lightning "selected" (fulgur conditum) would become even more sacred. Roman ritual doctrine considered these consecrated spots special and thus they were often marked in some way. The Puteal Libonis (also known as Puteal Scribonianum) in the Comitium of the Forum Romanum provides such an example; after a spot in the Comitium had been struck by lightning, it was marked with a puteal (a marble wellhead) (Festus 333). The Romans considered these special shrines, which often had a circular templum (a sacred, inaugurated precinct), as bidentalia (from the Latin noun bidental, bidentalis “a place struck by lightning”) and it was forbidden to tread on them. In the case of the Mars of Todi, the statue was found carefully buried in a stone-lined cist, leading to the conclusion that the statue had been struck by lightning, which caused it to fall from its podium and that it was subsequently ritually buried. The ritual burial of votive objects is a common practice in ancient Mediterranean religions, but the treatment of these bidentalia was special in its own right.