Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Origins of Rome

In Roman legend, the city was founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were suckled in a cave by a friendly she-wolf. Archaeologists are unlikely to vindicate this tale, but they do think they've found what Romans in the days of Augustus believed to be the location of this cave. A vaulted sanctuary, buried 17m inside the Palatine hill, was decorated with colored marble and sea shells to mark it as the Lupercale (named for the Latin term for a she-wolf, lupa). There is at yet no direct access to the partly filled-in site, which has been explored with laser scanners and endoscopes while a debate continues on how to safely open up a passage into the fragile vault in a hill riddled with centuries of buildings and passages.

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