Rome has revealed what its leading archeologist says is "one of the greatest discoveries ever made", a lost shrine dedicated to the ancient city's mythical founders.
Andrea Carandini told a press conference yesterday that a large vaulted hall beneath the Palatine hill was almost certainly the fabled Lupercale - a sanctuary believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where the twin boys Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. The professor acknowledged the evidence was as yet not totally conclusive, but said only "one doubt in thousand" remained.
Decorated with seashells and coloured marble, the domed cave was found close to the site of the palace of the first emperor, Caesar Augustus, by archaeologists. Ancient texts indicate that the sanctuary was indeed near the palace; a document from the 16th century, when it was still accessible, recorded that the emperor had embellished it with a white imperial eagle.
The outline of just such an eagle was found at the apex of the vaulted ceiling when probes were let down from the surface to examine the underground structure. Giorgio Croci, the engineer and professor in charge, said: "You can imagine our amazement. We almost screamed."
No one has entered the circular structure, the ceiling of which is 7 metres below the surface. More than three-quarters of its volume is filled with soil, but Croci said laser scans had indicated it was 8 metres high and 7.5 metres across. Part of the roof has fallen away.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Via the Guardian: