First evidence from Rome’s legendary second king Numa Pompilius’ era unearthed

Numa Pompilius
London, Oct 9 : Italian archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a 2,700 year old sanctuary, which they say provides the first physical evidence of Rome at the time of Numa Pompilius, Rome’s legendary second king, in the 8th century BC.

Numa Pompilius, a member of the Sabine tribe, was elected at the age of 40 to succeed Romulus, the co-founder of Rome.

Pompilius reigned from 715-673 BC, and is said to have been a reluctant monarch who ushered in a 40-year period of peace and stability.

According to Plutarch, he was celebrated for his wisdom, personal austerity and piety.

Archaeologist Clementina Panella from Rome’s Sapienza University, leader of the excavation team said, the temple or sanctuary her team had uncovered, lay between the Palatine and Velian hills, close to the Colosseum, the Arch of Titus and Via Sacra, and had probably been dedicated to the Goddess of Fortune.

She said the wall of the temple was found seven metres below the surface, together with a street and pavement and two wells, one round and one rectangular.

“Both wells were full of thousands of votive offerings and cult objects, including the bones of birds and animals and ceramic bowls and cups,” she said.

Dr Panella said there was no doubt that the objects dated from the period of Numa Pompilius despite the fact there were no statues or figures.

“That’s because Numa forbade images of the gods in his temples, arguing that it was impious to represent things Divine by what is perishable,” the Times quoted Dr Panella, as saying.

Numa Pompilius was known to have established religious practices and observance in the emergent city state, instituting the office of priest or pontifex and founding the cult of the Vestal Virgins.

He is also credited with dividing Rome into administrative districts, and according to Plutarch organised the city’s first occupational guilds, “forming companies of musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, dyers, shoemakers, skinners, braziers, and potters”. (ANI)