|In October 1993, Olof Brandt, Eva
Minten and Ariadne Eleni Fioretou uncovered completely the circular font
together with a 15th century tomb, built when the Early Christian baptistery
was replaced after one thousand years by a fifteenth century chapel.
In February 1995, Olof Brandt and
Ariadne Eleni Fioretou concentrated on some small but precious Late Antique
strata, sealed by the fifth century basilica. These strata
were only partially excavated 1995 but were completely explored in November
1998 by Olof Brandt and Maria Johansson.
The results are studied 1994-1998
The results of the 1993 campaign were
presented at the congress of Archeologia Laziale in Rome and published
in its acts. The 1995 campaign was briefly illustrated in the review of
the Swedish Institute "Opuscula Romana".
In February 1996, the Swedish
Institute invited Swedish experts on conservation to discuss how to leave
the baptistery after the end of the excavations. The experts agreed
on the importance of measuring the humidity in order to choose the right
materials. Thanks to a grant from the FFR, the humidity and the temperature
were studied during one entire year by Salvatore Lorusso from Università
degli studi della Tuscia (Viterbo). He could show that the humidity is
always 100% while the temperature varies between 15 and 18,2 degrees Centigrade.
Neither values is affected by shorter visits of groups around 15 persons.
Conclusion: the baptistery can be visited without endangering it, but it
is important to choose materials which resist the humidity.
A fourth century funerary inscription
of a woman named Flavia Hilarina, reused in the marble clad fifth century
font, was published and commented on by Olof Brandt in 1994 in the "Rivista
di archeologia cristiana".
It is very unusual to have two
fonts in the same baptistery, wrote Olof Brandt in 1998, and reflected
on whether the secondary font
was used for a gathering and blessing the water before the liturgy. This
rite is well known from liturgical texts and the author showed that it
has left traces in the legends of the martyrs although the archaeological
traces are few.
In 1997, Maria Elena Bertoldi discovered
a 16th century protocol which ordered that the font of San Lorenzo in Lucina
should be adapted "in another way". Does that mean that something of the
fifth century baptistery had survived also after the construction of the
15th century chapel which destroyed most of it?
The Swedish excavation 1993-1998
has touched upon the fifth century baptistery but also what was found beneath
it. This makes it possible to make a new reconstruction of this Roman
quarter in two different periods before the church was built in the fifth
What we know about the second century
AD: Read here
What we know about the third century
AD and later phases: Read here
Plans for the future
With the pages of this site, we want
to show that much information can be gathered just looking again at what
has already been excavated. Perhaps it is a good idea to stop digging
holes in the ground for a while and rather concentrate on gathering all
this information which only waits to be read. It would really be pity
not to read the story that this open book wants to tell us. For this reason,
the Swedish institute is now working in a project where Swedish, Italian
and other scholars examine all existing information not only from our excavation
but also from the older ones together with various questions related to
the church; the publication of the excavation will be completed by studies
in archaeology, art history, epigraphy and hagiography. The conclusions
will be put on this web site and published as a volume.
The aim is to make the ancient rests
tell us all they know about what happened here when Roman Antiquity became
Middle Ages and when Rome became a Christian city.