Tourists find skeleton of Roman child inside cave

Excursionists hiking up a mountain in the Lazio region were stunned last week after they came across the suspected skeleton of an ancient Roman child while exploring a cave.

Tourists find skeleton of Roman child inside cave
The cave where the bones were found. Photo: Egnoka/Wikimedia

The bones were found inside a shattered Roman clay jar, or anfora, which the hikers noticed sticking out of the ground inside the 35 metre-wide Grotta delle Capre, which translates as 'Cave of Goats.'

The cave is located on the rocky promontory of Monte Circeo – which rises 541 metres above the Mediterranean coast.

Not a bad spot for a hike: Monte Circeo, which lies alongside. Photo: Alessandra Kocman/Flickr

Once the tourists entered the grotto, they found the remains almost fully exposed as part of the cave floor had recently given way.  

Police suspect the floor's collapse may have been brought on by a clandestine dig and have since blocked access to the site.

“It's an extraordinary and unexpected find”, a spokesperson for the San Felice Circeo council told The Local.

“The cave is renowned among academics thanks to what it has revealed about the landscape of Italy during the last glacial period, but its more recent human history is still largely a mystery.”

The Grotta delle Capre has been used by local people since ancient times often serving, as its name suggests, as a place for herders to shelter their goats.

Local legends claim the cave was once home to a powerful sorceress: a story archaeologists now think might have its roots in reality.

Romans usually cremated their deceased, or buried them in mausoleums. Given the nature of the find, archaeologists suspect the cave may once have been a place Romans used to carry out  non-standard, cultish burial rituals.

“Paleontologists working at the site decades ago, actually unearthed two similar clay-jar burials and the remains of a hippopotamus during partial excavations,” the spokesperson added.

Archaeologists from Italy's Culture Ministry are now considering whether to excavate the entire cave in the hope it can shed new light on ancient Roman burial rites.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?