Radio-carbon tests reveal true age of Rome's she-wolf - and she's a relative youngster

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It is the very symbol of the glory that was Rome. It figures on the badge of the Serie A side, AS Roma. It was used as the emblem of the 1960 Rome Olympics. For Benito Mussolini, Italy's fascist dictator, there was nothing more representative of the might of the empire he hoped to revive than this magnificent, life-size bronze of a she-wolf suckling the city's legendary founders, Romulus and Remus.

Only problem: it was made 1,700-1,800 years later than supposed.

Until two years ago, the so-called Capitoline Wolf was almost universally recognised as an Etruscan statue from the early part of the 5th century BC. But, according to an article published yesterday by one of Italy's most eminent archaeologists, radio-carbon tests have shown it was manufactured in the Middle Ages.

Prof Adriano La Regina, formerly Rome's top heritage official, said about 20 tests were carried out last year at the University of Salerno. In a front-page article for the daily La Repubblica, he said they had resulted in a "very precise indication in the 13th century [AD]".

The she-wolf is among the most important works on display at the Capitoline museums. Its silhouette features in Rome on everything from souvenir T-shirts to restaurant menus. So its authenticity as a classical work is a sensitive matter. La Regina noted that the conclusion of the tests was revealed last October and that the Rome civic authorities had undertaken to publicise the outcome, but had not done so...

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