0846 GMT April 03, 2020
Beneath what were once the bustling streets of the heart of the Roman Empire, scientists have recovered the 2,600-year-old sarcophagus hidden beneath the Roman Forum. Enclosed in a chamber rests what researchers believe to be the body of Rome’s founder, Romulus, a legendary ancient historical figure, express.co.uk reported.
Alongside the discovery came another goldfish: A plethora of temples and palaces thought to hail from what was once the mightiest empire on the planet.
They believe one stone sarcophagus in particular, which is 1.4 meters in length and dates from the 6th century BCE, was dedicated to the cult of Romulus, who, according to legend, founded the city.
The discovery is the culmination of an archeological expedition that began a year ago when researchers first started to excavate the area.
Alfonsina Russo, the director of a large archeological area in Rome that includes the Forum and the Colosseum, told The Telegraph her reaction to coming across the piece of history.
She exclaimed: “We found it! “It’s an incredible discovery and we all jumped for joy.
“The sarcophagus was made from a single block of tufa stone and next to we found a circular altar.
“Both would have been linked to the cult of Romulus.
“The Forum never ceases to yield wonderful treasures.
Excavated from the nearby Capitoline Hill, the stone resided among one of seven hills of Rome, now occupied by a Renaissance palace which is headquarters to the city council.
The sarcophagus and altar were placed on the spot where the ancient Romans believe, according to legend, Romulus — the first king of Rome, was buried.
In order to reach the final excavation spot, archeologists had to burrow themselves beneath a staircase that leads to a building know as the Comitium.
This was a precursor to the Roman Senate, a political institution in ancient Rome, and one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history.
In what is considered a mystical and scared area of the Forum, the site is thought to date back to the earliest years of Rome.
The city itself is thought to have been founded on April 21, 753 BCE, by the two brothers who were also demigods.
The legend goes that after an argument over who would rule the city, or in another version where the city would be located, Romulus killed Remus — his brother — and named the city after himself.
Near to the forum lies the Lapis Niger, Latin for Black Stone, an ancient shrine and assembly area that predates the Roman Empire.
According to legend, Romulus and Remus were ordered to be thrown into the Tiber in a basket by a vengeful king.
Servants defied the order and instead left them on the riverbank.
They were later found and suckles by a wolf, which remains the symbol of the city.
Archeologists made the connection between the newly found stone and Romulus after scouring classical texts, including accounts by Horace and Livy, as well as records left by a 19th century archeologist, Giacomo Boni.
He is thought to have momentarily glimpsed the stone casket during excavations in 1899 but did not make the link to Romulus — with the chamber sealed and forgotten.
Prof. Russo of this said: “It’s been hidden for more than 100 years.”
She believes the legend of Romulus and Remus was based on the real founders of Rome.