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November 21, 2007

Wolf Cave

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It appears the birthplace of Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, has been unearthed. Discovered during excavations of Augustus' palace on the Palatine, the Lupercal has now been penetrated with a probe - archaeologists are concerned for its structural integrity - which provided images of the Wolf Cave.

According to mythology Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf after being left on the River Tiber's banks. The twin sons of the god Mars and priestess Rhea Silvia are said to have later founded Rome on the Palatine in 753 BC. The brothers ended up fighting over who should be in charge of the city, a power struggle which ended only after Romulus killed his brother.

In Roman times a popular festival called the Lupercalia was held annually on 15 February. Young nobles called Luperci, taking their name from the place of the wolf (lupa), ran from the Lupercal around the bounds of the Palatine in what is believed to have been a purification ritual. Naked, except for the skins of goats that had been sacrificed that day, they would strike women they met on the hands with strips of sacrificial goatskin to promote fertility.

No word re goings on in the cave once they were done with the purification ritual. Yahoo! News has a slideshow while the BBC (from whence the quote) offers a cross-section diagram of the Palatine featuring the cave.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 21, 2007 06:57 AM