Site of Caesar’s Assassination Found?

A zillion versions of this one bouncing around the interwebs right now … the clearest seems to be AFP via France 24:

Archaeologists said Wednesday they believe they have found the exact spot in Rome where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death on March 15, 44 BC.

The stabbing of the dictator by Roman senators was recorded by ancient historians and dramatised by William Shakespeare who gave Caesar the last words: “Et tu Brute? Then fall, Caesar.”

Now, a team from the Spanish National Research Council say they have unearthed evidence that, they believe, reveals precisely where the attack took place.

They say they have found a concrete structure, three metres (10 feet) wide and two metres (nearly seven feet) high, that was erected by his adoptive son and successor, Augustus.

After taking power himself, Augustus ordered the structure be placed exactly over the place where the attack took place so as to condemn the slaying of his father, the scientists said.

“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,” the Spanish research council said in a statement.

The Curia of Pompey was a closed space used sometimes for senate meetings at the time. The building’s remains are in the Torre Argentina archaeological site in the centre of Rome.

What the archaelogists found was not the spot where Caesar died but the point where he must have been stabbed and fell, Spanish council researcher Antonio Monterroso told AFP.

“We know this because there is a structure that seals the place where Caesar must have been seated presiding over the senate session where he was stabbed,” he said.

“There is a structure from the later period of his successor, the period of Augustus, placed where Caesar must have sat, and that is how we know.”

A comparison of the archaeological remains and the ancient texts led the researchers to their conclusion, said Monterroso, a member of the Institute of History of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences.

It was impossible to know if Caesar died in the same place, however, the researcher said.

“From there the body was taken to the Roman Forum for his veneration and then it was cremated,” Monterroso said.

“We don’t know if he died in that instant or if he died hours later.”

He agreed that the finding was open to dispute.

“It is not indisputable. All archaeological science is open to dispute, it should be open to dispute, it should be open to argument, it should be open to debate and open to criticism, of course.”

The three-year archaeological project, which began last year, is supported by the Rome City Council, Spanish government financing and the Spanish research council’s Spanish School of History and Archaeology in Rome.

The discovery in the centre of Rome was impressive, Monterroso said. “Thousands of people today take the bus and the tram right next to the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed 2,056 years ago.”

The original press release (which almost all the other sources print verbatim) is here.

… I always find it odd when they call archaeologists “scientists”, but I won’t argue. What I’m not clear about, however, is the source for this “structure” they’re referring to … anyone know?

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8 thoughts on “Site of Caesar’s Assassination Found?

  1. “They say they have found a concrete structure, three metres (10 feet) wide and two metres (nearly seven feet) high, that was erected by his adoptive son and successor, Augustus. After taking power himself, Augustus ordered the structure be placed exactly over the place where the attack took place so as to condemn the slaying of his father, the scientists said.”

    Can anyone find a reference for that claim?

    “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,”

    I believe “bottom” was mistranslated from the original Spanish PR, I believe they mean ‘back’?
    So in this meeting hall which we call the ‘Curia Pompey’ the speaker or honored person would be seated in the center likely on a low podium against the backwall. The Curia Julia is a perfect example. A section of what is very probably the rear section of the Curia Pompey (which they also claim) has been exposed and in plain view since the late 1920’s.

    “What the archaelogists found was not the spot where Caesar died but the point where he must have been stabbed and fell, Spanish council researcher Antonio Monterroso told AFP.”

    Any ancient references for this exact location? Besides at the foot/base of the Statue of Pompey as claimed by the ancient sources? It seems to me that this statue was always assumed to be either on or beside this small podium (again Curia Julia for example).

    “We know this because there is a structure that seals the place where Caesar must have been seated presiding over the senate session where he was stabbed,” he said.
    “There is a structure from the later period of his successor, the period of Augustus, placed where Caesar must have sat, and that is how we know.”

    This Augustus’ structure as the Curia was an intact building at the time would have to have been built inside and on the original floor. The exposed remains today are of the concrete core with some stone blocks facing the core which would have been well below the floor level. The remainder of the Curia is under the modern sidewalk-street-sidewalk with very likely the porch and front steps under the modern buildings across the street.
    They claim that “The building’s remains are in the Torre Argentina archaeological site in the centre of Rome.” Which I assume to mean as the exposed rear section of the Curia that is *in* the Torre Argentina site and not found in any underground excavations beneath the sidewall or street? Also if this exposed section was looted for building materials to below floor level it’s likely that was the entire structure’s fate?
    When the modern arched retaining wall was put in (seen in the photos) this exposed section would have to have been cut thru to ancient ground level to build it if it had been part of a larger building foundation.
    If so, the visual effect on this exposed section left a rectangular freestanding section which is ~3m wide and ~2m high (length of the remains maybe 15M?, the end third of this structure is gone) of a concrete core partially enclosed with finely cut stone (not marble) blocks which start at the ancient groundlevel.

    *IF* that is the section in question which is built on the ancient groundlevel and the Curia was an elevated building with a concrete foundation it would require Augustus to demolish the rear section of the Curia down to groundlevel to build anything on that location.

    *IF* the Curia was at groundlevel and this concrete core and 4 walled memorial was built it would have been inside an intact walled building? These exposed remains show a concrete core faced by stone blocks on 1 side and a decent section of stone blocks facing the rear wall and as I mentioned ~30% of one end is missing.
    The intact side section and part of the rear wall butt right against the rear of Temple C (seen in the ‘Marble Plan’ although slightly off but this can also be seen in person).
    So there is no room here for a concrete core/partially walled structure to be enclosed within an intact building but instead as it has always been claimed, it’s a concrete foundation faced with stone blocks for what is believed to be the Curia Pompey.

    Again they have not stated that this section is what they mean but it is the only section of what is identified as the Curia that is actually *in* the Largo d. Torre Argentina exposed excavations.

  2. This is a March 2012 post I made to my original 2005 topic http://tinyurl.com/juliusmuzzy on the Fodors’ messageboard about Julius Caesar’s assassination.
    This is the Curia section that I mention in my earlier post here.

    I condensed the assassination site for a post on a history/archaeology messageboard a while back which makes it alot easier to follow.

    I believe many archaeologists and historians including Rome’s Archaeology Department believe that this is the Curia (Hall) of Pompey.

    I’ve been posting about the Curia’s location on European travel messageboards since ~’98 and in ~2004/5 the City of Rome finally put up plaques all around this 1 block site which makes it alot easier to find.
    These plaques have this EXCAVATION DIAGRAM http://tinyurl.com/ye6gdmd (the numbers are not the same though, in my tinyurl #3 is the Curia Pompey).
    {On the Rome plaques}
    #(1) reads in Italian and English;
    “Remains of the central exedra of Pompey’s portico. Used as the senate house, it was here that Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44BC.”

    #(1) is in the exact location of the ‘Tree’ I mention below but that is also the exact center of the Curia’s rear section remains, so a logical place for them to put the #1.

    The Hall’s (Curia) prominent location in the exact center of the rear porticus would be visually attractive.
    A beaufiful theater at one end, a large open area with trees, fountains, etc surrounded by a porticus and a temple-like Hall at the opposite end with a beautiful facade.

    Also this had to be an important bldg in this complex because it was elevated on a high foundation requiring steps to enter and very likely had a porch with columns, architrave, pediment, etc.
    If it was just a functional-type bldg (shop, storage, office, wc, etc) it would be at groundlevel like the shops on the southern-side of the porticus.

    Now Suetonius, Plutarch and Appian claim Caesar was seated when attacked.
    Which seems likely because;
    The Statue of Pompey was probably on or besides the podium as a place of honor.
    And Suetonius states that Caesar had a stylus in his hand with which he stabbed Casca in the arm after he struck the 1st blow.
    This seems to rule out other locations like the Hall’s front steps or porch because outside Marc Antony was being detained in a planned phony conversation with one of the conspirators.

    Plus it would be in public view with the possibility of the Mob turning against them.
    Or crossing the Hall to the podium; A moving target with the assassins also moving while trying to uncover their hidden daggers?

    Plus Caesar would be on his feet with the possiblity of fleeing even wounded into the Senator’s seats or to the front entrance.
    But just wait a few seconds longer until Caesar is seated and all the assassins are in position with their hidden daggers at the ready and then just await the signal to attack.
    Their victim now surrounded with his back figuratively against the wall.

    [MODEL] http://www.vroma.org/images/raia_images/pompeyrecon.GIF That half-circle structure at the bottom of the model is the actual Theatre of Pompey.
    The large rectangular Porticus of Pompey is behind the theatre.
    And in the *exact center* of the rear section of the porticus is the Curia (Hall) of Pompey (small square bldg).

    And behind the rear porticus are 4 Temples (A, B, C, D).
    These temples predate Pompey’s Theater & Porticus.
    Directly behind the Curia is the circular Temple B and the rectangular Temple C (The Curia’s rear corner actually butts up against the rear corner of Temple C).
    This ACTUAL PHOTO puts you at the top of the MODEL above looking between Temples B & C at the back wall of the Curia of Pompey. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v217/exactduckwoman/Rome2007/LArgentina_CuriaPompey.jpg OR
    http://tinyurl.com/yezpyj7
    Temple C on the left and to the right you can see a curved section of the circular Temple B.

    See the tree roughly in the center; that tree is on groundlevel with the Temples and behind it in what looks like a low wall are the remaining finely-cut stone blocks that made-up the back wall of the Curia (the rest have been looted I assume).

    And behind this low wall over to the modern wall arches and sidewalk are the remains of the brick/concrete-rubble foundation of the Curia.
    To the right of this foundation see a small stone block pier, everything to the right of that and in front on the last wall arch on the right is missing (~30% of the total width), that was also part of the Curia.
    You can see this in the EXCAVATION DIAGRAM, #3 is the Curia of Pompey http://tinyurl.com/ye6gdmd

    Now go back to the ACTUAL PHOTO; Notice that right behind the tree I mentioned earlier there is another tree that is growing *in* the higher brick/concrete-rubble foundation.
    The cool thing about that tree is it is *exactly* in the center of the Curia widthwise [.....T.....] and ~1m in from the outside backwall.

    [SIDEVIEW; Tree is right-center
    http://www.vroma.org/images/raia_images/largoargent11.jpg

    So if you had a time machine and went back to 44BC along with that tree, it would be growing inside the Curia alongside the backwall dead-center.

    What I am getting at is; Julius Caesar or any VIP that was going to address a crowd in this Hall would enter thru the monumental front entrance, walk across the Hall and be seated along the backwall in the center on a low podium, probably similar to the Curia Julia in the Roman Forum http://www.vroma.org/images/raia_images/curia.jpg

    Now go back to the ACTUAL PHOTO of back of the Curia and look at the center-tree I mention.

    NOW IN YOUR MIND square-off the Curia’s core foundation then put the floor over the foundation with the small podium on the floor.

    So now you have a floor and podium hovering in the air between just above those modern wall arches and the modern sidewalk.

    So it’s very possible that ‘Once Upon A Time’ in that exact space on the morning of the Ides Of March 44BC, a seated Julius Caesar was struck by the 1st dagger and then raising to his feet he received an onslaught of stab wounds, finally falling to the floor and dying at the base of the Statue of Pompey?

  3. Sorry but I don’t believe my 1st (of 2) comment got thru as I didn’t “an awaiting moderation” confirmation, Thanks.

    “They say they have found a concrete structure, three metres (10 feet) wide and two metres (nearly seven feet) high, that was erected by his adoptive son and successor, Augustus. After taking power himself, Augustus ordered the structure be placed exactly over the place where the attack took place so as to condemn the slaying of his father, the scientists said.”

    Can anyone find a reference for that claim?

    “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,”

    I believe “bottom” was mistranslated from the original Spanish PR, I believe they mean ‘back’?

    So in this meeting hall which we call the ‘Curia Pompey’ the speaker or honored person would be seated in the center likely on a low podium against the backwall. The Curia Julia is a perfect example.

    A section of what is very probably the rear section of the Curia Pompey (which they also claim) has been exposed and in plain view since the late 1920’s.

    “What the archaelogists found was not the spot where Caesar died but the point where he must have been stabbed and fell, Spanish council researcher Antonio Monterroso told AFP.”

    Any ancient references for this exact location?
    Besides at the foot/base of the Statue of Pompey as claimed by the ancient sources?

    It seems to me that this statue was always assumed to be either on or beside this small podium (again Curia Julia for example).

    “We know this because there is a structure that seals the place where Caesar must have been seated presiding over the senate session where he was stabbed,” he said.
    “There is a structure from the later period of his successor, the period of Augustus, placed where Caesar must have sat, and that is how we know.”

    This Augustus’ structure as the Curia was an intact building at the time would have to have been built inside and on the original floor.

    The exposed remains today are of the concrete core with some stone blocks facing the core which would have been well below the floor level. The remainder of the Curia is under the modern sidewalk-street-sidewalk with very likely the porch and front steps under the modern buildings across the street.

    They claim that “The building’s remains are in the Torre Argentina archaeological site in the centre of Rome.”

    Which I assume to mean as the exposed rear section of the Curia that is *in* the Torre Argentina site and not found in any underground excavations beneath the sidewall or street?

    Also if this exposed section was looted for building materials to below floor level it’s likely that was the entire structure’s fate?

    When the modern arched retaining wall was put in (seen in the photos) this exposed section would have to have been cut thru to ancient ground level to build it if it had been part of a larger building foundation.

    If so, the visual effect on this exposed section left a rectangular freestanding section which is ~3m wide and ~2m high (length of the remains maybe 15M?, the end third of this structure is gone) of a concrete core partially enclosed with finely cut stone (not marble) blocks which start at the ancient groundlevel.

    *IF* that is the section in question which is built on the ancient groundlevel and the Curia was an elevated building with a concrete foundation it would require Augustus to demolish the rear section of the Curia down to groundlevel to build anything on that location.

    *IF* the Curia was at groundlevel and this concrete core and 4 walled memorial was built it would have been inside an intact walled building?

    These exposed remains show a concrete core faced by stone blocks on 1 side and a decent section of stone blocks facing the rear wall and as I mentioned ~30% of one end is missing.

    The intact side section and part of the rear wall butt right against the rear of Temple C (seen in the ‘Marble Plan’ although slightly off but this can also be seen in person).

    So there is no room here for a concrete core/partially walled structure to be enclosed within an intact building but instead as it has always been claimed, it’s a concrete foundation faced with stone blocks for what is believed to be the Curia Pompey.

    Again they have not stated that this section is what they mean but it is the only section of what is identified as the Curia that is actually *in* the Largo d. Torre Argentina exposed excavations.

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