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Illustrated Bible History

Ancient Roman Travel - Travelling Customs



Tessera Hospitalis Tessera Hospitalis
A tie of hospitality was a compact of mutual friendship and entertainment between two persons. It was one of the oldest and most sacred bonds known among the Romans and was scrupulously observed by those who originally entered into it and by their descendants. When such an alliance has been concluded a die called tessera hospitalis was given by the host to the guest at the time of his departure. The die was broken in two parts and the two parties kept one half as mark of identity for himself and posterity. Should they or their descendants meet again, they would in this way know each other and so they can renew or repay the tie between two families. Roman traveler's found it convenient to take advantage of the tie of hospitality for lodging with hereditary friends.