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cella (sĕlˈə) [key], the portion of a Roman temple that was enclosed within walls, as distinct from the open colonnaded porticoes that formed the rest of it. It corresponds to the naos in Greek temples. The cella housed the statue of the deity to whom the temple was dedicated and was also used as a treasury. Sometimes it extended the whole width of the building, instead of being kept entirely within free-standing colonnades. The cella was generally a single chamber, but there were sometimes two chambers, or even three, as in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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