The earliest references we have to this monument already linked it to the sepulchre of the Scipio brothers, Roman generals and heroes who died in Hispania during the Second Punic War (3rd century BC). This erroneous identification was accepted and disseminated by the majority of writers from the 15th century to the second half of the 19th century.
Research in the 20th century revealed the error of this interpretation. Scientific studies in the fields of archaeology, architecture, sculpture and epigraphy led to the conclusion that the monument was built at the beginning of the 1st century AD and that under no circumstances could it have contained the bodies of the two Roman generals.
The Romans were not allowed to cremate or bury their dead inside the town. Therefore, we always find them outside the walls and normally alongside a road.
As travellers approached the town, they would begin to pass by a large number of funerary monuments. These were more or less spectacular depending on the wealth of the deceased’s family. Roman families wanted passers-by to help keep the memory of their departed loved ones alive, although the opulent funerary monuments they built were also designed to demonstrate their own status.
Scipios’ Tower is probably a family mausoleum built in memory of a married couple or two
brothers. The monument would have been situated at a place where the Via Augusta passed through lands owned by the family.
Although it is now incomplete, we know it is a typical tower-shaped funerary monument. Inside there would have been a funerary chamber that contained the ashes of the deceased.
On the tower you can see two reliefs that represent the god Attis. Both figures are dressed in oriental style: a short tunic with sleeves, narrow trousers tight around the ankles, a cloak and a Phrygian cap. It was the erroneous interpretation of their attire that led them to be confused with two soldiers and identified as the Scipio brothers.
According to mythology, Attis died from self-castration and subsequently came back to life. Attis is an oriental god linked to the worship of the mother goddess Cybele. He was considered to be the protector of the dead and their resurrection, as he himself had known suffering and death and had overcome it.