Several ancient Roman texts describe the assassination of Julius Caesar in Rome, at the Curia of Pompey in 44 BC, which was the result of a plot among a group of senators to eliminate the General. This fact led to the formation of the second triumvirate and to the final outbreak of civil wars. Now, 2,056 years later, a team of researchers from the Spanish National Research Council has found the exact plot where the military man was stabbed.
A concrete structure of three meters wide and over two meters high, placed by order of Augustus (adoptive son and successor of Julius Caesar) to condemn the assassination of his father, has given the key to the scientists. This finding confirms that the General was stabbed right at the bottom of the Curia of Pompey while he was presiding, sitting on a chair, over a meeting of the Senate. Currently, the remains of this building are located in the archaeological area of Torre Argentina, right in the historic centre of the Roman capital.
Antonio Monterroso, CSIC researcher from the Institute of History of the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences (CCHS-CSIC), states: "We always knew that Julius Caesar was killed in the Curia of Pompey on March 15th 44 BC because the classical texts pass on so, but so far no material evidence of this fact, so often depicted in historicist painting and cinema, had been recovered."
Classical sources refer to the closure (years after the murder) of the Curia, a place that would become a chapel-memory. CSIC researcher explains: "We know for sure that the place where Julius Caesar presided over that session of the Senate, and where he fell stabbed, was closed with a rectangular structure organized under four walls delimiting a Roman concrete filling. However, we don't know if this closure also involved that the building ceased to be totally accessible."
Spaces of the assassination of Caesar
In Torre Argentina, in addition to the Curia of Pompey, researchers have started to study the remains of the Portico of the Hundred Columns (Hecatostylon). The aim is to identify what connecting links can be established between archaeology, art history, and cinema in these spaces of the death of Julius Caesar. Monterroso adds: "We also aim to better understand that sense of closure and dismal place described in classical texts."
The two buildings are part of the monumental complex (about 54.000 square meters) that Pompey the Great, one of the greatest military in the history of Rome, built in the capital to commemorate his military successes in the East around the year 55 BC.
Monterroso also states: "It is very attractive, in a civic and citizen sense, that thousands of people today take the bus and the tram right next to the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed 2056 years ago or even that they go to a theatre, since the main theatre of the capital is the Teatro Argentina, which is equally close."
The project, with duration of three years, relies on the approval and cooperation of the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali of Rome City Council, on the financial support of the Plan Nacional 2008-2011 of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and on the backing of the CSIC Spanish School of History and Archaeology in Rome.
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