The Cave of Lupercal discovered in Rome

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The Cave of Lupercal discovered in Rome

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:13 am

ROME (Reuters) - Italian archaeologists believe they have found the
cave where, according to legend, a she-wolf nursed Romulus and Remus,
the twin founders of Rome.

An underground cavity decorated with seashells, colored marble mosaics
and pumice stones was discovered near the ruins of the palace of Emperor
Augustus on the Palatine hill. Experts say they are "reasonably certain"
it is the long-lost place of worship sacred to ancient Romans and known
as Lupercale, from the Latin word for wolf.

"This could reasonably be the place bearing witness to the myth of Rome,
one of the most well-known in the world, the legendary cave where the
she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus," Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli
told a news conference on Tuesday.

The cave was found 16 meters (52 feet) underground in a previously
unexplored area during restoration work on the palace of Augustus, the
first Roman emperor.Archaeologists investigating Renaissance
descriptions of the sanctuary used a camera probe and the images suggest
the vault, which has a white eagle at the centre, is well-preserved.

"You can imagine our amazement, we almost screamed," said Giorgio Croci,
head of the archaeological team working on the restoration of the
Palatine hill overlooking the Roman forum.

According to the myth, Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the god
Mars, were abandoned in a cradle by the banks of the river Tiber where a
wolf found them and fed them with her milk.

The brothers are said to have founded Rome at the site on April 21, 753
B.C. and ended up fighting over who should be in charge. Romulus killed
Remus and became the first king of Rome.


Archaeologists said the location of the cave reinforced their belief
that it was the Lupercale.

"It is clear that Augustus... wanted his residence to be built in a
place which was sacred for the city of Rome," said Croci. The emperor
restored the sanctuary and probably connected it to his own palace,
he said.

Finding out more about the cave without damaging it or the foundations
of the surrounding ruins will not be easy.
More than two-thirds of the cavity, which is about 8 meters high and 7
meters wide, is filled with debris and earth after part of it collapsed,
and it is not clear where the entrance is.

"We have to investigate with extreme caution... This is a precious thing
which is certainly more than 2,000 years old," said Croci.

Andrea Carandini, an archaeologist specializing in ancient Rome, said
he was stunned by the find and called it "one of the most significant
discoveries ever made".

The pagan cult of the Lupercale, which involved men whipping women
around the Palatine in a fertility rite, continued until the fifth
century, when Pope Gelasius I banned it.

Long accused of neglecting its ancient treasures, the Italian government
is spending 12 million euros ($17.7 million) to restore the Palatine

After being closed for decades due to the risk of collapse, Augustus's
palace will reopen to the public in February 2008.

You can also view some pictures at .

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
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Lupercalia, a little early?

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:18 am

Salvete, amici Romani,

IO!! EVOE!! Qui triumphe!!

There were rumblings of this back in Ianuarius; they'd discovered a space, sent in a probe, and gotten just enough of a look to get people thinkin'. Apparently they did find better access, although it's still a remote-imaging project until some of the rubble inside is cleared.

The Rogue Classicism blog reproduces the article posted above, with links to the earlier coverage...

...and here is the BBC's story, with some nice pics: two of the chamber's interior, the Wolf-and-Twins statue, and a diagram of the find.

Italia's Ansa news service has this article: ... 73592.html ;
the "Le Photo" link at the bottom leads to several more images. (Gratias ago, mi Piscine!!)

In another life, M Lupinius Paulus and I had our hearts and minds set on journeying to Roma and finding the She-wolf's den. We figured that we, running on adopted Roman ancestry and wolf-totem instinct, might spot something, guess something, get a feel for something the professionals might have overlooked.

Bene, they beat us to it, after all. I can say I lived to see it happen. They've saved us a long march and a cold swim, to be sure; but I don't know whether to be relieved or a little miffed! >({|;-)

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Postby Marcus Lupinius Paulus on Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:44 pm


Have you heard or read anything more about the Lupercal cave? I came across some other views by some classicists that this may not be the Lupercal after all. At least one thinks it it only a private dining room.

I guess we will know more if/when the rubble is finally cleared out so the whole room can be studied.

But...I have another task for us. Wherre was the Vicus Gemini? Unknown. Maybe we need to tackle this one!

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Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Feb 29, 2008 9:22 pm

Salve, mi Lupini!

Well, this *is* the Collegium for archaeological mysteries, nonne? >({|:-)

The last I heard about the Lupercal find was that it might actually be a private shrine to a sea-goddess, or maybe a small dining-room decorated with a marine motif. It *might* still be the correct site, or not far from it; but they're debating whether the Romans would have built anything else over the real thing.

I'm open to there being some kind of hitherto-unsuspected link between La Lupa and a water deity; She did find the Twins in a river; shells and such might be an appropriate decoration after all, for reasons known to the Romans but not surviving to our day. So I'm not ruling anything out; just because no extant work mentions it doesn't mean it's not so...but that's just Marius the Romanticist talking. >({|;-)

But Numerius Cursor's blog ("Rogue Classicism", link above) will have more and better information than I can give you off the top of my muddled head. He's kept up on it pretty well, and has links to all the better original reports that are still on the 'Net.

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