SARCOPHAGUS REVEALED UNDER THE ROMAN FORUM
Minerva|May/June 2020
A team of archaeologists and architects announced the ‘extraordinary’ discovery of a 2,600-year-old shrine directly beneath the Roman Forum – and they have suggested that it might be associated with the cult of Romulus, Rome’s legendary founder and the first king of the city.

The news was officially delivered by Alfonsina Russo – the director of the archaeological area, which includes the Forum and nearby Colosseum – at a press conference on 21 February inside the Forum’s hallowed Curia Julia, the hub of ancient Rome’s political life where Roman senators met to debate and vote.

Russo said that archaeologists had identified and explored a hypogeum (or underground chamber) built almost underneath the Curia itself, and much later hidden entirely beneath a large monumental staircase built under Mussolini’s Fascist regime to improve access to the building. ‘Finding it intact was unexpected,’ said Russo. ‘It might well have been destroyed when the staircase was built during the 1930s.’ The staircase is now to be removed, along with all other modern additions to the Curia’s porticoed façade.

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