Capitoline she-wolf statue medieval, not from antiquity

This video says about itself:

5 June 2013

Truman Chung and Evangeline Bautista discuss the Capitoline Wolf and Bellini’s “Ecstasy of St. Francis”

From Discovery Channel:

Rome’s She-Wolf Younger Than Its City

Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Nov. 22, 2006 — The icon of Rome’s foundation, the Capitoline she-wolf, was crafted in the Middle Ages, not the Antiquities, according to a research into the statue’s bronze-casting technique.

The discovery quashes the long-prevailing belief that the she-wolf was adopted as an icon by the earliest Romans as a symbol for their city.

Recalling the story of a she-wolf which fed Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, and his twin brother, Remus, after they had been thrown in a basket into the Tiber River, the statue has been always linked to the ancient world.

It was thought to be either the product of an Etruscan workshop in the 5th century B.C. or the masterpiece of the 6th century B.C. Etruscan sculptor Vulca of Veii.

It was believed that the Romans later adopted the wolf since her defiant stance and raised eyebrows seemed to reflect Rome’s liberation from the Etruscan rule.

On the contrary, scholars have long established that the bronze figures of Romulus and Remus were added in the Renaissance, in accordance to the legend of Rome’s foundation.

“Now incontestable proofs tell us that also the she-wolf is not a product of the Antiquities,” Adriano La Regina, former Rome’s archaeological superintendent and professor of Etruscology at Rome’s La Sapienza University, wrote in Italy’s daily “La Repubblica.”

According to La Regina, analysis carried out by restorer Anna Maria Carruba during the 1997 restoration of the bronze statue showed that the she-wolf was cast as a single unit.

This technique was typically used in the Middle Ages.


10 thoughts on “Capitoline she-wolf statue medieval, not from antiquity

  1. Eternal city reveals new layers during metro dig
    Fri Dec 1, 2006 1:25PM ET

    By Phil Stewart

    ROME (Reuters) – Raffaela La Pasta is not sure but thinks that the still half-buried skeleton she is unearthing in downtown Rome is female, and at least 1,600-years-old.

    A leg-bone is sticking up through the dirt and the outline of the skull is just visible, even in this pit 8 meters (26 feet) below the surface of the city.

    “She’s not the only one. There are others we found too,” La Pasta said, coolly.

    This archaeological site, which has also yielded a trove of Roman coins, pottery and even toys, is just one of dozens being drilled in the eternal city thanks to a metro project that is giving La Pasta and other scientists a rare, deep look below.

    A few of the finds, like a 2,000-year-old Roman compass La Pasta’s team found, go on display at a downtown museum starting on Saturday.

    Other artifacts will join the exhibition as they are discovered in the coming months, while Rome forges ahead with its plans to punch a tunnel under the historic center to make way for a long-awaited subway line.

    “You’re standing on top the world’s biggest archaeological collection,” said the exhibit’s curator, Maria Antonietta Tomei, motioning to the earth below.

    “And our museum exhibit will only get bigger.”


    The project is massive, with a eight-digit price tag just for the first stage of the excavations.

    At spots throughout Rome, archaeologists are walling off bits of sidewalk, streets and squares trying to find out how to build the subway line — a daunting, costly task for urban planners.

    Central Rome is still full of surprises. In June, another group of archaeologists found the skeleton of a woman who they think may have ruled Rome 3,000 years ago — before Romulus and Remus are credited with founding the city.

    The metro line aims to run deep enough underground to avoid disturbing ancient artifacts as it winds it way under an historic center that includes structures like the Forum and the Colosseum which are sensitive to vibrations in the earth.

    “The issue is not the metro itself, which is going to run far enough below the surface that there is no risk,” said Giovanni Simonacci, the Metro C project’s technical director.

    The problem, he said, is figuring out how to get people from the surface of the city down to the metro line without disturbing an important historic structure.

    “We don’t know where (the precise entry and exit points) will be yet because we don’t know what is down there,” he said.

    “Phase One” of the excavations are meant to reach depths of 11 meters (36 ft) across the city. The target date was originally set for December but has already been pushed back until at least the end of March due to new discoveries.


    It’s hard to tell if Mayor Walter Veltroni is squinting because of the sunlight or because he’s realizes how challenging his so-called “archaeological metro” project will be.

    Standing in the middle of Rome’s busiest square, Piazza Venezia, Veltroni peers below the ground into what his team of archaeologists have uncovered: a well preserved cellar of a palace built in the 17th century.

    The cellar’s interior window frames and staircase are intact, just as they would have been before the palace was destroyed to make way for the famous Roman square around a century ago. They had covered right over it.

    The archaeologists said they plan to tear down the cellar to find other buildings they suspect are buried even deeper below.

    “We don’t know what’s down there,” Veltroni told Reuters, raising his voice over the buzz of Piazza Venezia’s traffic.

    “Now we’re naturally more recent. When we go deeper to look for the real Rome, we see what we find.”

    The metro project could have unforeseen consequences for the city. Veltroni did not rule out turning part of Piazza Venezia into a museum if there was a highly important discovery.

    La Pasta said the project could yield more finds than Veltroni and others might imagine.

    On a dig that she worked on a block away, the team reached a depth of 17 meters (56 feet). They found entire structures, including perfectly preserved sections of 2,000-year-old Roman wall that are now in the Rome metro building’s headquarters.

    “It was a whole new layer of the city,” she said.


  2. Jan 23, 2007, 11:14 PM EST

    Rome’s Palatine Hill Shows New Treasures

    Associated Press Writer

    ROME (AP) — Work on Rome’s Palatine Hill has turned up a trove of discoveries, including what might be the underground grotto where ancient Romans believed a wolf nursed the city’s legendary founders Romulus and Remus.

    Archaeologists gathered Tuesday at a conference to save crumbling monuments on the Palatine discussed findings of studies on the luxurious imperial homes threatened by collapse and poor maintenance that have forced the closure of much of the hill to the public.

    While funds are still scarce, authorities plan to reopen some key areas of the honeycombed hill to tourists by the end of the year, including frescoed halls in the palaces of the emperor Augustus and of his wife, Livia.

    After being closed for decades, parts of the palaces will be opened for guided tours while restoration continues, officials said.

    It was during the restoration of the palace of Rome’s first emperor that workers taking core samples from the hill found what could be a long-lost place of worship believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, the abandoned twin sons of the god of war Mars.

    Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine and the nearby Roman Forum, said experts used a probe to peer into the 52-foot-deep cavity and found a vaulted space decorated with frescoes, niches and seashells. It is too early to say for sure whether the worship place known as “lupercale”- from “lupa,” Latin for wolf – has been found, but Roman texts say that it was close to Augustus’ palace and that the emperor had restored it, Iacopi said.

    “It was a very important symbolic place and we believe that it was well preserved,” said Giovanna Tedone, an architect leading the work at the palace. Archaeologists are now looking for the grotto’s entrance, she said.

    Other finds to have emerged recently from the Palatine’s largely unexplored palaces and temples include an ancient Roman sewer, insignia believed to have belonged to the emperor Maxentius, terra-cotta statues and an alabaster tiger striped with gray marble.

    Officials said the resurfaced treasures highlight the importance of a hill so favored by the rich and powerful that its name is at the origin of the words “palace” in English, “palais” in French and “palazzo” in Italian.

    Today rainwater seeps through stones, roots bore through bricks and retaining walls crack under layer after layer of construction, from the eighth-century B.C. remains of Rome’s first fledgling huts to a medieval fortress and Renaissance villas.

    Only a quarter of the Palatine’s nearly 500 buildings are above the ground and just 40 percent of the hill’s 67 acres can be visited.

    The latest closure came in November 2005, when a 16th-century wall collapsed one night in a well-visited area near the emperor Tiberius’ palace. No one was hurt, but the collapse prompted authorities to study the stability of the hill and its monuments.

    Experts said Tuesday they are considering restoring the ancient Roman sewage system to help drain rainwater.

    Each year, 4 million people buy a ticket granting access to the Palatine and the nearby Colosseum, but 90 percent of them just go to the ancient arena, said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli. The minister said that $9 million will be available in 2007 for more restoration on collapse-prone areas such as Tiberius’ palace.


  3. 007-11-20 18:56
    Romulus and Remus cave found

    Shrine discovered under Emperor Augustus’ house

    (ANSA) – Rome, November 20 – Italian archaeologists think they’ve found the shrine where ancient Romans worshipped the mythical she-wolf that suckled their city’s legendary founders Romulus and Remus.

    The Lupercal shrine, as it is called, has been located in an unexplored area of the Palatine Hill next to the home of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, Archaeologists have found a 9m-high, 7.5mm-wide, part-natural, part-artificial cave with a ceiling covered in marble of various colours.

    At the centre of the vaulted ceiling, a large white eagle was discovered whose significance is still being interpreted.

    The find was formally presented by Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli and Rome Archaeological Superintendent Angelo Bottini at a news conference here Tuesday. Rutelli hailed the find as ”stunning”.

    ”Rome never tires of amazing the world with its archaeological finds.

    ”It is incredible to think we have found a mythological place which has finally become real”.

    Bettini described the hunt for the shrine.

    ”The first probe went down two years ago, but we didn’t really know what we’d found. Subsequent studies gradually revealed how the site coincided with the content of various literary sources.

    ”The breakthrough came at the beginning of August when we managed to take some photos with a laser scanner through a hole in the vault caused by a rockslide which filled the cave with rubble.

    ”We only have images of a section of the vault. ”But we managed to push the probe down to the pavement of the shrine, enabling us to calculate the height of the structure”.

    Bettini said it would take a long time to excavate the shrine because of the risk of damaging it.

    ”We expect the dig to be very long and difficult,” he said.

    ”We will have to proceed with caution because there is a real risk of damaging the structure of the grotto”.

    An expert on Ancient Rome, archaeologist Andrea Carandini, argued that Emperor Augustus deliberately built his home on the Lupercal in order to turn his residence into ”a sort of museum of the origins of Rome”.

    ”It’s a solid working hypothesis,” Calandrini said.

    This would support historical evidence of the emperor’s ”extremely complex mythological, ideological and political programme based on depicting himself as a new Romulus”.

    Archaeologists have thought for years that the Lupercal shrine was somewhere on the slopes of the Palatine Hill, Rome’s oldest hill and the site of the legendary quarrel in which Romulus slew his brother.

    The foundation of the city traditionally dates back to that day: April 21, 753 BC.


  4. I’m not so sure about that, Etruscans were highly skilled Bronze casters, and these techniques go back to as far as the ancient Greeks. What makes me believe that it was from ancient times is the stylization of the hair, which had not been a major part of middle age sculpture. You can see the distinct differences between the hair of the children and the hair of the wolf.


  5. Hi Art Lover and Skeptic, the “distinct differences between the hair of the children and the hair of the wolf” are not surprising, as the article claims that the children are from the Renaissance, and the wolf much earlier, from the Middle Ages.


  6. Pingback: Plaster copies of Greek and Roman sculpture | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Over 100,000 comments on my blog, and other statistics | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Many people think that between the years 400 and 1400 – the ‘Dark Ages’ – nothing much happened in Europe.

    Not true. Among other things, Cola Di Rienzo happened.

    Di Rienzo was born around the year 1313, in Rome. His father was a barkeeper (paging John Boehner!), and his mother washed clothes. Nevertheless, Di Rienzo rose to be the leader of Rome, not once but twice.

    At the time, Rome was a crime-ridden city of squalor. Its best days were a millennium earlier. Di Rienzo overcame the two noble families who had run Rome for decades, with a program to restore Rome to its former greatness. Think of it as MRGA – Make Rome Great Again, except with actual meaning to it.

    Di Rienzo began by cleaning up the streets, and cracking down on crime. But he didn’t stop there. He boldly proclaimed two concrete goals:

    The unification of Italy, and
    The sovereignty of The People over government – i.e., democracy.

    Those were very controversial ideals in the 14th century. Di Rienzo ruled Rome for a few years, at which point the noblemen deposed him. He then returned to power for a couple of months, at which point the noblemen (and a mob) murdered him, in 1354, at the age of 41.

    So much for that, you would think.

    But the ghost of Cola Di Rienzo surely celebrated 500 years later, in July 1871, when Rome became the capital of a united Italy. And then again, in June 1946, when the King of Italy abdicated, and Italy became a democracy.

    Di Rienzo won. It took more than 500 years, but he won.

    And not without recognition. For instance, Friedrich Engels, the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, wrote a play about Di Rienzo. And if you ever visit Rome, then ten blocks northeast of the Vatican, you will find Piazza Cola Di Rienzo. (There is a shop selling ice cream on one side, and a shop selling gelati on the other.) You will find the piazza along the Via Cola Di Rienzo, which runs from the Vatican to the Tiber River.

    My point is this. If you support the right causes, then sometimes you have to be very, very patient. You might even have to wait 500 years. But you will win.

    Please support our campaign for justice, equality and peace. No need to be patient; you can do that right now >>


    Alan Grayson


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