Archaeologists unveil possible shrine to Rome’s first king

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Archaeologists said on Friday they had discovered an ancient cenotaph that almost certainly commemorated the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus, buried in the heart of the Italian capital. (AFP)
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The 1.4.-meter wide sarcophagus does not contain the body of Romulus, who is said to have vanished into the sky following his death. (AP)
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Originally discovered at the start of the last century, the significance of the find has only just become clear. (AP)
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Updated 21 February 2020

Archaeologists unveil possible shrine to Rome’s first king

  • Possible shrine to Romulus is found at the heart of Rome, on the site of the old Roman forum
  • The founder of Rome was abandoned by the banks of the river Tiber, before being nursed back to health by a she-wolf

ROME: Archaeologists said on Friday they had discovered an ancient cenotaph that almost certainly commemorated the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus, buried in the heart of the Italian capital.
The small chamber containing a simple sarcophagus and round stone block was originally found at the start of the last century beneath the Capitoline Hill inside the old Roman forum.
However, officials say the significance of the find has only just become clear following fresh excavations and new research.
Alfonsina Russo, the head of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, said the site probably dated back to the sixth century BC, and was located in the most ancient part of the city which was directly linked in historical texts to Rome’s first king.
“This area is highly symbolic. This surely cannot be Romulus’ tomb, but it is a place of memory, a cenotaph,” Russo told Reuters TV.
The shrine is buried beneath the entrance to the Curia, one of the meeting places for Roman senators which was subsequently converted into a church — a move that protected it from being dismantled for its stones as happened to other forum buildings.

The underground chamber was also located close to the “Lapis Niger,” an antique slab of marble that was venerated by Romans and covered a stone column that was dedicated to “the King” and appeared to curse anyone who thought to disturb it.
Russo said the Roman poet Horace and ancient Roman historian Marcus Terentius Varro had related that Romulus was buried behind the “rostra” — a tribune where speakers addressed the crowd in the forum. “The rostra are right here,” she said.
No body was found in the sarcophagus, which was made of volcanic tuff rock, but according to at least one legend, Romulus vanished into the sky following his death to become the God Quirinus, meaning that possibly he never had a tomb.
According to the myth, Romulus and his brother Remus, the sons of the god Mars, were abandoned by the banks of the river Tiber where a she-wolf found them and fed them with her milk.
The brothers are said to have founded Rome at the site in 753 BC and ended up fighting over who should be in charge. Romulus killed Remus.


What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Updated 10 April 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Trigonometric delights by Eli Maor

Trigonometry has a reputation as a dry, difficult branch of mathematics, a glorified form of geometry complicated by tedious computation. 

In Trigonometric Delights, Eli Maor dispels this view. Rejecting the usual descriptions of sine, cosine, and their trigonometric relatives, he brings the subject to life in a compelling blend of history, biography, and mathematics. 

From the proto-trigonometry of the Egyptian pyramid builders and the first true trigonometry developed by Greek astronomers, to the epicycles and hypocycles of the toy Spirograph, Maor presents 

both a survey of the main elements of trigonometry and a unique account of its vital contribution to science and social growth. 

A tapestry of stories, curiosities, insights, and illustrations, Trigonometric Delights irrevocably changes how we see this essential mathematical discipline.