ROME AT THE TIME OF THE SEVEN KINGS – AT THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS

The great Roman historian Livy narrates in his “History of Rome” the mythical foundation of Rome by Romulus and Remus. The twins were the sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars, the war god.

There was an argument between the two brothers, and Romulus killed Remus.

He founded the city on April 21st, 753 BC. The site chosen by Romulus was the Palatine Hill.

Romulus became the first of the seven ‘kings’ that ruled Rome until 509 BC.

The seven kings are somehow associated in the legend to the seven hills that formed the new town.

Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullius Hostilius, Ancus Martius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus.

Modern historians doubt about the accuracy of Livy’s chronology and don’t know which sources he used, considering that he lived between 59 BC and 17 AD.

Archaeological research has always tried to compare the historical sources with the actual findings, and the investigation continues today.

ROME AT THE TIME OF THE SEVEN KINGSon display in the rooms of Palazzo Caffarelli and in the site of the Temple of Jupiter inside the Palazzo dei Conservatori at the Capitoline Museums, goes backwards in time, starting at the end of the era of the Seven Kings (VI century BC) and goes back in time until the X century.

Great part of the findings on display are presented to the public for the first time. The attempt is that of giving a complete insight of the Rome of those early times, casting new light on costumes, ideologies, technical skills, commercial contacts with other centers, cultural and social changes.

The exhibit opens with a series of finds proceeding from the Holy Area of St Homobonus, in the Forum Boarium, in the proximity of the ancient harbor on the Tiber. Terracotta sculptures of gods and warriors and terracotta reliefs representing processions, chariots drawn by sphinxes, felines and other fantastic animals is what remains of the polychrome decoration of the wooden temples on stone foundations of those times.

More materials are witnessing the richness of the decoration and the variety of buildings and functions in the site of the Roman Forum and along the Velia and the Palatine Hills. The material finds from this period help to cast new light on many of the cults and ancestral liturgies that will develop in later eras.

Section 2 centers on the development of burial rites between 1,000 and 500 BC, with materials coming form the sites later occupied by the Forums of Caesar and Augustus and by the Roman Forum. Cremation was common in the earlier times and the container had the shape of a hut. Cremation was then substituted by the habit of burying in a sarcophagus – we find here an early terracotta example from the VIII century, and that of including some the dead’s personal objects.

A scale model of Archaic Rome, with focus on the Palatine Hill, and a series of objects and contexts from the famous Esquiline Necropolis help envisioning the approximate extension and aspect of the early town.

Attention is given to the ceramics proceeding the Forum Boarium and from the Capitoline Hill testifying the first contacts between Rome and Greece.

From Tomb 125 at the Esquiline a variety of ceramics from Greek colonies on the Thirrenian Sea and extraordinary imitations and interpretations made in Rome or in the nearby Etruscan centers.

The last sections of the exhibit focus on luxury and prestigious objects belonging to the ruling class: a war chariot from a warrior’s tomb, a variety of personal ornaments of great value witness the richness of the
Esquiline Necropolis, established in the mid-eight century BC, in use until the 1st century AD.

The exhibition at the Capitoline Museum goes on until January 27th, 2019.

The museums are opened every day except Decmber 25th and January 1st from 9.30 am until 7.30 pm.