Lapis Niger Rome

The Lapis Niger is one of the monuments in the Roman Forum in Rome. It was probably a sanctuary dedicated to the God Vulcan, although there are also theories that claim it was the tomb of Romulus.

Lapis Niger Rome

Praktische informatie

The Lapis Niger is located within the Roman Forum and thus has the same opening hours and entrance fee as the rest of the archaeological excavations.

History Lapis Niger Rome

Lapis Niger, Forum Romanum, Rome
Lapis Niger

The Lapis Niger (“Black Stone,” in Latin) is a square piece of ground that was covered with black marble and demarcated from the rest of the Roman Forum by stripes of white marble.

It was only discovered toward the end of the 19th century, and it was thought to either be the tomb of Romulus or the place where he was murdered. This was deduced from a piece of writing by Festo, who spoke of “a black stone in the Comitium“.

Excavations under this floor discovered a very old monumental complex, reached by a small staircase. It consisted of a podium with an altar (the upper part of which is missing) with the lower part of a column (or the pedestal of a statue) and a memorial stone next to it.

The handwriting on the memorial stone is very old and the letters still resemble the Greek letters from which the Latin alphabet is derived, from which it is inferred that the inscription dates from the 6th century BC. This makes it the oldest known monumental inscription in Latin.

Some parts are missing and the inscription is difficult to translate anyway, but what is clear is that it was an extraordinarily sacred place and people who dishonored the monument could count on having to suffer great pains.

The presence of the altar and the likely presence of a statue suggest that it was a sanctuary rather than a tomb. The writings of the Greek writer Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who lived in the 1st century BC, indicate that a statue of Romulus must have stood next to a Greek inscription in the Volcanale (a sanctuary dedicated to the Roman God of fire, Vulcanus).

Lapis Niger, Rome