The bronze statue depicting the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, being nursed by the she-wolf, seen for centuries as the symbol of Rome and the Roman empire and currently housed inside the museum atop the Capitoline Hill, might have in fact been created in the 7th or 8th century or even later - not in the years predating the Roman empire, as the legend has it.
"It's decisively medieval. As I went ahead with my research, I was ever more sure," said Anna Maria Carruba, part of the research team that restored the statue nearly a decade ago.
According to estimations, Lupa Capitolina may be younger by up to 1,000 years than what the current records say, namely that it was created in the 5th century B.C. and was donated to the museum in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV. The separate statues of Romulus and Remus were allegedly added during the early 1500s.
"The new information about the epoch of the Capitoline bronze have been held back for about a year now from the public and experts," wrote the Italian publication La Repubblica, quoting the head of the national archaeological office for Rome, Adriano La Regina, who stated that the Capitoline Museum intentionally kept the results of the test from the public.
On the other hand, Claudio Parisi Presicce, the director of the Capitoline Museum said that the institution did not try to keep the results of the study under wraps, but merely regarded the finding as inconclusive and decided not to publish them until further investigation. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the statue will be subjected to carbon dating tests sometime in the last quarter of the year.
The carbon dating of the dirt and clay pieces from the statue indicate that the statue was cast in the 8th century A.D., added Carruba. Nevertheless, Alessandro Naso of the University of Molise, an Etruscan expert, argues that this is not clear evidence that the statue isn't ancient. "Leaving aside the point of pride about Rome's symbol, arguments for the medieval are weak," Naso said in an interview.
Since it's likely the statue has been manhandled over the years, carbon dating tests could have no relevance regarding the time when it was created, explained archaeologist Nicoletta Pagliardi. Furthermore, in medieval times, the symbol of Rome was a lion, which would suggest that the statue couldn't have been created in the 7th or 8th century.