Tomb or shrine? Discovery in the heart of Rome linked to Romulus

Mysteries
Romulus and Remus

(Image by Matthias Lemm from Pixabay)

MYSTERY WIRE — The legendary founder of Rome — Romulus — is in the news following a discovery of an empty tomb.

A stone sarcophagus with a circular altar dating from the 6th Century, B.C., was found in the remains of an ancient Roman temple, according to a BBC.com report. Italian archaeologists unveiled the discovery Friday at the Roman Forum.

Experts are trying to decide if it’s really a tomb, or more of a shrine to Romulus. There’s even debate about whether brothers Romulus and Remus even existed.

According to The Guardian, “A newly discovered ancient shrine believed to have been dedicated to the cult of Romulus, the legendary founder and first king of Rome, has been unveiled.”

Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, told the Guardian:

It is not the tomb of Romulus but a place of memory where the cult of Romulus was celebrated, a cenotaph. It is also not his tomb, as some sources say that Romulus was killed and cut into pieces, while others say he was taken up to heaven as god Quirinus.

Alfonsina Russo

No bones were found in the 2,600-year-old sarcophagus.

Romulus and Remus were believed to be the twin sons of the war god Mars and priestess Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin and daughter of the former king Numitor. The mythology, as presented by Ancient Origins:

In Roman mythology, Romulus and his twin brother Remus were sons of Rhea Silvia, but Amulius, king of Alba Longa, ordered that the infants, twin grandnephews, be murdered. Their mother placed her twins in a basket on the River Tiber and under a fig tree a she-wolf suckled and raised the brothers. When the boys grew up and learned of their true ancestry they overthrew Amulius but Romulus later killed Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill in 753 BC.

The archaeological investigation will continue as officials work on opening the temple to the public in two years.

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