Sorry, Folks, Caligula's Tomb Isn't Found
Historian: Supposed discovery near Rome just doesn't add up
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2011 7:29 PM CST
File photo of a statue of Caligula in the "Roman Art from the Louvre" exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2007.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(Newser) – The quirky story out of Rome about police stumbling onto the lost tomb of Caligula grabbed headlines, but Cambridge professor Mary Beard isn't buying it. The key evidence is that cops caught a guy with a looted statue near Lake Nemi, and the statue was, gasp, wearing the same "caligae" sandals that the emperor wore. "Errr? Aren't there loads of Roman statues that wear these?" asks Beard in the London Times. The smugger led police to the site of the suspected tomb, and archeologists are checking it out, but Beard says it's a long shot.

Nothing in the history books suggests that Caligula is at Nemi or that he even had a tomb for that matter. "True, Caligula had a big villa there, but it is almost inconceivable that this assassinated symbol of imperial monstrosity would have been given a grand monument, plus a big statue there," she writes. Instead, he probably had a low-key burial somewhere or got slipped into the imperial family's mausoleum. So why this big fuss? "Simple. Because it makes a good story."