THE temple built by Romulus to celebrate the hand of Jupiter giving Roman troops their unstoppable force has been found at the foot of the Palatine Hill, Italian archaeologists say.
The ruins of the shrine to Jupiter Stator (Jupiter the Stayer), believed to date to 750 BC, were found by a Rome University team led by Andrea Carandini.
"We believe this is the temple that legend says Romulus erected to the king of the gods after the Romans held their ground against the furious Sabines fighting to get their women back after the famous Rape (abduction)," Carandini said in the Archeologia Viva (Living Archaeology) journal.
Historians have always been intrigued by ancient references to the temple, but never knew precisely where it was located or what it looked like. The lithograph above is a fanciful 19th Century idea of its possible appearance.
According to myth, Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC and the wifeless first generation of Roman men raided nearby Sabine tribes for their womenfolk, an event that has been illustrated in art down the centuries.
Carandini added: "It is also noteworthy that the temple appears to be shoring up the Palatine, as if in defense".
Rome's great and good including imperial families lived on the Palatine, overlooking the Forum.
Long after its legendary institution by Romulus, the cult of Jupiter the Stayer fuelled Roman troops in battle, forging the irresistible military might that conquered most of the ancient known world.
In the article in Archeologia Viva, Carandini's team said they might also have discovered the ruins of the last Palatine house Julius Caesar lived in - the one he left on the Ides of March, 44BC, on his way to death in the Senate.