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'Capitoline Wolf' could be 1,700 years younger

ROME -- A study has shown that the “Capitoline Wolf,” a bronze statue representing Ancient Rome's most famous symbol, was probably sculpted during the Middle Ages, some 17 centuries later than what has long been thought, media reports said Saturday.

Researchers at the University of Salento, who carried out radiocarbon and thermoluminescence tests, believe the statue dates from around the 12th century A.D. and not the 5th B.C., daily Corriere della Sera said.

The statue, which is kept at Rome's Capitoline Musuems, depicts a she-wolf suckling human twins. The pair represent Romulus and Remus, brothers who, according to legend, founded Rome in 753 BC.

Most experts believe the twins were added in the late 15th century A.D., probably by the sculptor Antonio Pollaiolo.

However, the she-wolf was thought to have been a much older work, possibly pillaged by conquering Roman soldiers and then used as a symbol of the founding myth of their city.

“(Now) the thesis is that it is medieval copy of an original Etruscan work,” Rome's municipality supervisor for culture, Umberto Broccoli, said at a news conference to present the study's findings.

Broccoli noted that 18th-century German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann had first attributed — based on how the wolf's fur was depicted — the statue to an Etruscan maker in the 5th century B.C.

“The scientific debate has lasted for centuries, at least from Winckelmann onwards and it is my opinion that we will never have a definitive answer,” Broccoli said.

However, the latest study had brought “much more clarity,” Broccoli added.

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