The Jupiter Stone was discovered during excavations on West Street in 1934. It was found in what had been identified as a midden (a rubbish dump), and had probably originally stood close to its find spot.
There have been a number of dates suggested for the stone, ranging from the late first century AD, to the late second to early third century AD.
The Jupiter Stone is carved from sandstone, and would most likely have formed part of a statue base. This would have formed a pedestal base on top of which was likely to have been a column topped with an image of the Roman god Jupiter.
What does the inscription mean?
I O M
IN HONOREM DO MVS DIVINA
To Jupiter Best and Greatest
In Honour of the Divine House
Image reproduced courtesy of Antony J. Beeson
© Anthony Beeson
Interpreting the images
The significance of this piece lies in the images carved on its sides. They possibly represent:
Inscription dedicated to IVPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS (I.O.M) 'Jupiter Best and Greatest')
A female figure holding a spear (only the arm and hand holding a portion of the spear survives)
A male figure standing next to a tree (only the shoulder, showing the remains of a Greek chlamys (a type of cloak, sometimes associated with soldiers), survives.
Two embracing, nude females, possibly goddesses or nymphs.
The images are of particular interest as they show a sophisticated fusion of Classical art forms with native Iron Age traditions. This fusion of realism with the abstract has created a significant example of Romano-British art, which would have originally formed part of an impressive and imposing monument dedicated to Jupiter in the centre of Roman Chichester.