Seems more folks are doubting the "Lupercal" identification ... an excerpt from Spiegel's coverage:

So the headlines of the famous lupine cave emerge as a glimmer of hope -- at least on the horizon to a golden past. But even this archaeological sensation could lead to another sobering setback. Most authorities of ancient Roman history have serious doubts about the brash declarations.

"A sacred cave doesn't look like this," protested the head of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome, Henner von Hesberg, who also works on the Palatine. He thinks the roughly seven-meter in diameter grotto is more likely a "private dining room" that was linked to the upper floors of Emperor Augustus' palace via a staircase.

Adriano La Regina, Rome's superintendent of archaeology from 1976 to 2004, also rejects the theory. He surmises that the symbolic spot must be located farther to the west.

No one has entered the painted cavern because the structure is unsafe. Even when a special drill was used to penetrate the ceiling of the vault, large pieces of decorations fell to the floor. Consequently, researchers are now proceeding cautiously, with lasers and remote-controlled cameras.

And the debate continues. Critics say that the highly intimate nature of the decorations casts particular doubt on the claims.

The roof of the chamber is encrusted with seashells, marble and pumice stones, with mosaics visible in a number of places. There are rectangular panels filled with diamond shapes and flowers. Such ornate decorations were typical of the private chambers of nobles at the end of the Roman Republic, around 50 BC.

By contrast, the holy Lupercale resembled a dark and gloomy rock shrine. Candles flickered there, and priests guarded the entrance. Ancient documents report that a large bronze she-wolf with bared teeth stood in the interior.

Every year on Feb. 15, a wild ceremony was held in the cave to honor a faun, a type of Roman deity. At the height of the orgy, the temple guardians would slaughter a billy goat, skin it, and hit the women standing there with the bloody pieces of fur. It was believed that this would make them pure and fertile.

This brutal ceremony does not match well with the refined decorations of the cavern. "You would expect a significantly different type of d├ęcor in a public religious space," says Hesberg, the German archaeologist. And there is no indication of sacral objects. The camera probes have been unable to spot any ritual vessels or an altar.

Project director Carandini dismisses such concerns. He is bringing the full weight of his reputation to bear in an effort to stifle all skepticism -- presumably also because he has managed to reel in considerable funding. The state has approved a new large-scale dig on Palatine Hill.

But doubts remain. The alleged lupine cave looks more like an upscale ancient snack bar. It is well known that many Roman Caesars, including Nero and Caligula, had small dining rooms that were built into the natural hollows in the rock under their multi-level palaces on the Palatine. During the summer, the imperial camarilla reclined in these cool caverns and were served delicacies such as fattened dormice and parrotfish on a bed of pureed dates.

Even the great Emperor Augustus, whose immense palace stood above the site, almost certainly had such an epicurean boudoir. Hesberg explains that "the floor space offers enough room for a triclinium," the Latin word for a room with three couches where semi-recumbent diners could enjoy their meal.

Could it be that the alleged cave of the founders of Rome is in reality where the great emperor feasted with a small circle of friends on roasted peacock tongues seasoned with fermented fish sauce?

This suspicion could soon be confirmed. The wall of the cave is emblazoned with a white eagle: the symbol of the Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus.