Romulus & Remus brooch found in Spain

A rare silver brooch depicting the she-wolf suckling the infants Romulus and Remus, the founding legend of Rome, has been discovered at the Hostalot – Idlum archaeological site in Vilanova d’Alcolea, Valencia, Spain. Dating to the 2nd century A.D., the brooch is unusual for its high quality of carving and because there are few comparable examples known.

The piece is small, just four centimeters (1.6 inches) long, and while the surface is worn, details of the original fine carving like the wolf’s mane are still visible. The original pin is still attached to its hinge in the back.

The Hostalot – Idlum site was a mansio, a rest stop on the Via Augusta road. Mansios were administered by the government to host officials, messengers and traveling dignitaries. They also offered horse-changing services to mail carriers to keep the postal service speedy and efficient. The Romulus and Remus brooch was unearthed from the main mansio building.

The Idlum mansio was built at the same time as the Via Augusta, so between 15 and 7 B.C., and appears to have been used for different purposes until it was abandoned in the 5th or 6th century: as a private residence, a production facility for agriculture or manufacturing or perhaps as a bathhouse. Fragments of ceramic tubes found in the recent dig season may have been used as water or steam conduits in a bathing facility.