Swedish Research in 

San Lorenzo in Lucina 


- The Transformations  
of a Late Antique  
Roman Quarter 

First page 

Why San Lorenzo in Lucina? 






Made by: Olof Brandt  

Swedish Institute in Rome  
Web page:   
Via Omero 14  
I-00197 Rome, Italy  
E-mail: isvroma@vatlib.it  


The second century AD
The third century The fourth century: a Late Antique stratigraphy
The Early Christian church A fifth century baptistery
Early Christian baptisteries Who was Lucina?

 A Second to Fourth Century A. D. Stratigraphy

The excavation in november 1998 has shed some new light on the history of the quarter before the church was built.  
On this plan, the excavated stratigraphy is marked with grey (click on the plan to see it full size!). A North-South line (North is up) shows the place of the section shown below. The strata which were excavated shed no big surprises. The surprise was rather what they covered. Since the baptistery was first uncovered in 1983, a part of a foundation wall had been visibile on a level close to that of the third century insula. The position of the wall made it probable that  it was part of the foundations of the insula, which thus extended to this place.  

But it didn't.  This foundation had no connection to the insula. The building to which this foundation belonged seems to have been demolished: it was covered by a stratum which probably should be dated to the late second century. After the demolition of this building, this must have been an open space west of the big insula. The careful excavation taught us how difficult it is to trust levels too much without precise stratigraphical observations, that is, the precise relationship between the excavated things. Probably this foundation is part of a second century building, belonging to the same phase as the mosaic and the painted wall, although not necessarily the same building. And it also means that this second century building was demolished without being replaced by another building: in its place, we have an open space in the same period of the insula, from the third to the fourth century, and the ground level is gradually raised. This open space and the early date of the foundation wall means that we have no traces of the insula here, and it is not necessary to believe that it extended so far. Fragments of wall paintings found here have nothing to do with those found in the insula. This space seems not to belong to the insula.  

Friedrich Rakob suggested in 1987 that the foundation wall found by the German institute beneath the sacristy was the outer wall of a great insula, but it cannot be excluded that it may have belonged to another complex altogether. Rakob meant that the foundation belonged to the insula period as its ground level is about half a meter higher than the mosaic room from the second century. But levels are not enough to date buildings. On the other hand, Rakob probably was right when he proposed a building with a central courtyard.  

The stratigraphy as it was left, partially excavated, after the 1995 excavation. In front, you see the foundation wall of a Second Century building (US 38 and 89), demolished around 200 AD and covered by a new ground level (level A on the drawing; US 85, 87 and 88), in the middle of the photo. The upper layers belong to a later raised ground level of the fourth century (level B on the drawing; US 78-84). This level was covered when the ground was raised again, probably only a short time before the construction of the church (level C; US 77). The small rectangular hole in these upper layers is a child's tomb, dug in a later period.