The Capitoline Wolf or Lupa Capitolina

Romulus and Remus and She-Wolf bronze statue, Capitoline Museum, Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy, Europe
Bernard Jaubert / Getty Images
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The Capitoline She- Wolf (Lupa Capitolina)

Lupa Capitolina
Lupa Capitolina. CC Flickr User Antmoose

The Capitoline She-Wolf, on display at the Capitoline Museums in Rome, was thought to have been an ancient bronze sculpture from the fifth or sixth century B.C. There are two issues about the dates. (1) The wolf and the infants were made at separate periods. (2) There is a millennium between the possible dates for the creation of the wolf.

The Capitoline Museum's Hall of the She-Wolf provides the following information about the Capitoline She-wolf:

5th century BC or medieval
cm 75
Acquisition data: Formerly at the Lateran. Sixtus IV donation (1471)
Inventory: inv. MC1181

What Were Its Origins?

It might have been Etruscan, were an early version of its origin correct. The wolf is suckling the twins Romulus and Remus -- Romulus being the eponymous founder of Rome, but the statues of the infants are modern additions, perhaps made in the 13th century A.D., but added in the 15th century. Recent repair work on the statue of the she-wolf, which has an injured paw that might be traceable to antiquity, seems to have borne out the idea that the wolf statue itself is also more modern, dating from the 13th century. The technique of lost wax for bronze statues is ancient, but it is argued that the use of a single mold for the entire body is not. Although full reports have not been made available, a 2008 article from BBC news online says:

"In a front page article in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, Rome's former top heritage official, Professor Adriano La Regina, said about 20 tests were carried out on the she-wolf at the University of Salerno.

He said the results of the tests gave a very precise indication that the statue was manufactured in the 13th Century."

This position is not without challenge. Another article from 2008, Rome's Symbol, Lupa Capitolina, Dated to the Middle Ages, says:

"Nevertheless, Alessandro Naso of the University of Molise, an Etruscan expert, argues that this is not clear evidence that the statue isn't ancient. "Leaving aside the point of pride about Rome's symbol, arguments for the medieval are weak," Naso said in an interview."