This archaic shrine is the site of the oldest Latin inscription known. It is a rather strange monument made up of a large, very old style of altar next to a truncated stele, or column, that has the ancient inscription carved vertically in boustrophidon style, that is left to right, then right to left, and alternating back and forth, "as an ox would plow a field." These two elements, though, are underground. Capping them is a large, black slab of marble, ringed with up-ended slabs of light marble forming a sort of railing. It is as if this was a sacred spot walled-off to keep pedestrians from trespassing on it. In fact, the inscription on the column invokes dire curses on anyone tramples this site.
Perhaps the most important feature of the Lapis Niger is that it was venerated by the Roman people as the location of the tomb of Romulus himself, the founder and first king of Rome! During much of Rome's history, the Lapis Niger was a part of the comitium, the meeting place immediately in front of the senate house. In fact, the speakers platform which would later become the rostra was built right next to the Lapis Niger, which adds even more mystery and prominence to this ancient site.
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