Lapis Niger

The Lapis Niger (Latin, "Black Stone") is an ancient shrine in the Roman Forum. Together with the associated Vulcanal (a sanctuary to Vulcan) it constitutes the only surviving remnants of the old Comitium, an early assembly area that preceded the Forum and is thought to derive from an archaic cult site of the 7th or 8th century BC.

The black marble paving (1st century BC) and modern concrete enclosure (early 20th century) of the Lapis Niger overlie an ancient tomb or altar and a stone block with one of the earliest known Latin inscriptions (ca. 570–550 BC). The superstructure monument and shrine may have been built by Julius Caesar during his reorganization of the Forum and Comitium space. Alternatively, this may have been done a generation earlier by Sulla during one his construction projects around the Curia Hostilia. The site was rediscovered and excavated from 1899 to 1905 by Italian archaeologist Giacomo Boni.

Mentioned in many ancient descriptions of the Forum dating back to the Roman Republic and the early days of the Roman Empire, the significance of the Lapis Niger shrine was obscure and mysterious even to later Romans, but it was always discussed as a place of great sacredness and significance. It is constructed on top of a sacred spot consisting of much older artifacts found about 5 ft (1.5 m) below the present ground level. The name "black stone" may have originally referred to the black stone block (one of the earliest known Latin inscriptions) or it may refer to the later black marble paving at the surface. Located in the Comitium in front of the Curia Julia, this structure survived for centuries due to a combination of reverential treatment and overbuilding during the era of the early Roman Empire.

Read more about Lapis NigerHistory, Further Reading

Other articles related to "lapis niger":

Lapis Niger - Further Reading
... Johannes Stroux Die Foruminschrift beim Lapis niger In Philologus, Vol. 86 (1931), p ...
Comitium - Archaeology
... Between 1899 and 1903 he and his collaborators discovered the Lapis Niger (the "Black Rock") as well as other artifacts while excavating the comitium ... The Comitium is paved with blocks of travertine and extends to and around the lapis niger, which, although on the same level, is protected on at least two sides by a sort of curb ... to a point directly opposite the middle of the Arch of Severus, and ends just beyond the lapis niger with a curved front wall, which is itself built over an older tufa pavement ...