Friday, July 11, 2008
Wow, here's an archaeological shocker: the famous Capitoline Wolf (pictured) has a suggested new date...a good 1700-1800 years later than art historians have traditionally supposed. The Wolf has long been thought by the majority of scholars to be Etruscan in manufacture, dating to the first quarter of the 5th c BC (but the babies are usually described as Renaissance, legend attributing them to Antonio Pollaiuolo), and she's in all the survey textbooks as exactly that. The Wolf is also the symbol of the city of Rome, appearing everywhere in civic logos. But Prof. Adriano La Regina, a highly respected scholar, went on record yesterday in the newspaper La Repubblica, revealing that a series of radiocarbon tests done at the University of Salerno show the Wolf is...medieval. The new date was first proposed by conservator Anna Maria Carruba, who worked on the statue's restoration and followed-up with further research.
My first reaction: Oh pooh, I have to rework my lectures! I'll probably take her out from the intro survey class for the sake of simplicity (now I have time to discuss the Arezzo Chimera, yippee), but leave her in my upper-level Roman Art class' relevant lecture, revising to discuss issues of attribution and dating, and the contention over the revised view. My second reaction is one, honestly, of disappointment. The Capitoline Wolf is (was) such an archaeological icon. Not that there's anything inferior about medieval art--certainly not--and the news makes her no less beautiful an artwork, but it'd be hard thinking of her as anything but Etruscan. Read more about the Shocking News here in the Guardian. The Associated Press article points out that the Capitoline Museums director is still skeptical, and that more tests will come. Not surprisingly, some are reluctant to accept the news. La Regina claims that civic authorities deliberately sat on the new evidence, but the museum director denies this.