Expert sceptical of sacred Roman cave

From The Australian: Expert sceptical of sacred Roman cave.

A leading Italian archaeologist said that the grotto whose discovery was announced this week in Rome is not the sacred cave linked to the myth of the city’s foundation by Romulus and Remus.

The Culture Ministry and experts who presented the find said they were "reasonably certain" the cavern is the Lupercale — a sanctuary worshipped for centuries by Romans because, according to legend, a wolf nursed the twin brothers there.

But Adriano La Regina, Rome’s superintendent of archaeology from 1976 to 2004, said ancient descriptions of the place suggest the Lupercale is elsewhere — 50 to 70 metres northwest of the cave discovered near Emperor Augustus’ palace.

"I am positive this is not the Lupercale," Mr La Regina told Reuters in an interview.

Instead, he believes the cave — which ministry pictures show is decorated with well-preserved seashells and coloured mosaics — was a room in Nero’s first palace on the Palatine Hill, which burnt down in 64 AD in the great fire of Rome. [continue]