ROME, Italy (AFP) — An ancient tomb thought to belong to Rome’s founder Romulus will be presented to the world on Friday, bringing to a head months of investigation by history sleuths.
The 6th century BC stone sarcophagus, with an accompanying circular altar, was discovered under the Forum in the heart of Italy’s capital decades ago, but experts could not agree on whether or not it belonged to the fabled figure.
According to legend, Romulus founded the city after killing his twin brother Remus.
The brothers had been raised by a she-wolf — the symbol of Rome shows them sucking at her teats — but later fell out over where to build the new metropolis.
Historians have long been divided not only over whether the pair actually existed, but if so where Romulus’ body — which was reportedly dismembered after his death by angry senators — may have been buried.
The Colosseum Archaeological Park, which manages the Forum where the sarcophagus lies, said recent clues all pointed to it being the founder’s tomb, in what it labelled an “extraordinary discovery”.
The Forum was the beating heart of the Roman Empire and historical sources refer to Romulus’s possible burial in that area.
No bones were found inside the sarcophagus.
“Whether Romulus existed or not is not important,” Italian archaeologist Paolo Carafa told AFP.
“What matters is that this figure is considered by the ancients to mark the political birth of the city.”