Archaeologists Find Where Julius Caesar Was Stabbed
words by Carol King
A team of researchers from the Spanish National Research Council has found the exact spot in Rome where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC, casting fresh light on how he died.
Ancient Roman texts describe the general and dictator’s assassination at the Curia of Pompey in Rome. Caesar’s murder was the result of a plot among a group of senators to eliminate him. It led to the Liberators’ Civil War started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge his death.
The archaeologists found a concrete structure measuring almost 10-feet wide and more than 6-feet high. The structure was placed inside the Curia on the orders of Caesar’s adopted son, his great nephew and successor, Augustus. The discovery confirms that Caesar was stabbed while he was sitting on a chair at the bottom of the Curia, presiding over a meeting of the Senate. The remains of the building are in the archaeological area at Largo di Torre Argentina, in Rome’s historic centre.
A researcher from the Spanish Institute of History of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, Antonio Monterroso, said: “We always knew that Julius Caesar was killed in the Curia of Pompey on 15 March 44BC because [of] the Classical texts… no material evidence of this fact… had been recovered.”
Classical sources refer to the closure of the Curia years after the event and its use as a memorial to Caesar. Monterroso explained: “We know for sure that the place where Julius Caesar presided over that session of the Senate and where he fell… was closed with a rectangular structure organised under four walls delimiting a Roman concrete filling.”
Researchers have also begun to investigate the remains of the Portico of the Hundred Columns, or Hecatostylon, at Largo di Torre Argentina as well as the Curia, in an effort to find links between the area and its artistic portrayal as a dismal, confined space. The two buildings are part of the 13-acre monumental complex that Pompey the Great built in the capital c. 55BC to commemorate his military successes in the East.
Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that researchers will able to verify whether Caesar’s last words were really “Et tu, Brute?” The phrase became popular after William Shakespeare used them in his play ‘Julius Caesar’ when Caesar cries out to his friend Marcus Junius Brutus as he was assassinated. Classical literature suggests Caesar said nothing but pulled his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators.