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Dark Age Architecture in Rome

Author(s): Robert Coates-Stephens


Source: Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 65 (1997), pp. 177-232
Published by: British School at Rome
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40310950
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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME

INTRODUCTION: CYCLICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ECCLESIASTICAL


ARCHITECTURE IN ROME

The accepted view of church architecture in Rome during the early Mid
that delineated by Richard Krautheimer in a few hugely influentia
highly cyclical picture which he has presented consists of a series of di
Firstly, there is the Constantinian phase, during which the Christi
established as an architectural type, with colonnaded naves, single ap
form of transept; spolia elements are used disparately, since an ordered
still seen as something inherently pagan. In the subsequent 'Sistine Rena
the fifth century, classicism is reborn in a fully Christian context: homo
are selected, the orders are respected, and figurative decorative com
used, together with monumental inscriptions. The period from the late
seventh centuries is termed Byzantine: smaller, more elaborate chu
favoured, often with galleried aisles and multiple apses; fresco, mosaic a
decoration, and even the modulus of construction, are said to be s
'eastern'. The late seventh and early eighth centuries are seen as an
dark age, seldom discussed except as a background to the next pha
olingian Renaissance. Here, early Christian, and specifically Constant
are revived; we are urged to apprehend a clear contrast between bo
building-activity of the preceding age and the richness of activity of the
cycle, and between the 'Roman', 'western' character of the Carolingian a
and the 'Greek', 'eastern' character of the Byzantine phase. The
Renaissance of architecture in Rome dies away after the pontificate
855). The buildings of the tenth century are so rarely considered that t
even form an accepted second 'dark age'. Religious architecture in the ci
once again in the twelfth century.
But this picture, convenient though it may be as a form of descriptiv
is in urgent need of revision. Even when Krautheimer drew up his s
original 'Carolingian Revival' article (1942), he was quite selective wit
examples he produced to illustrate his rigid categories. His 'T-type basili
used as a benchmark for the Constantinian, Roman model, is really only
in Rome itself by Saint Peter's: the numerous conflicting examples of c
church types in fourth-century Rome bear little or no relation to this m
therefore omitted from the argument (1942: 2). Furthermore, those arc
characteristics which Krautheimer termed foreign or near eastern and
supposedly eliminated by the Carolingian Renaissance - triple apse

1 'The Carolingian revival of early Christian architecture' (1942), 'The architec


III: a fifth-century Renascence?' (1961), Rome, Profile of a City (1980). His data are c
fundamental Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae (1937-77).

177

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1 78 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

aisles, 'Byzantine' mosaics - in fact continue in m


erected from the late eighth century onwards. A
the Lateran and Vatican palaces, each of the n
Leo III, in Krautheimer's terms, can only be
characteristics defined as Roman, western, or C
the Byzantine period, as well as the so-called
plan, found at Honorius I's San Pancrazio and a n
dark age (see below), and the 'Italian' school of
San Lorenzo fuori le Mura right through the
154-7), would be two such tendencies.
In later postscripts to his reprinted articles an
City' Krautheimer generously admitted he ha
arguments, and that certain chronological and t
redrawn - or even broken down altogether. T
moved forward to the mid-fourth century (
'Carolingian' churches meant that the suppo
Christian models had to be moved back to t
(1993: 216). In addition, he admitted the cont
tions' well into the ninth century in the form
architecture (1969: 255). One of his more serious
whole iconographic analogy between Constan
at Lorsch, which Krautheimer had originally
imitation of Constantine's triumphal arch in Ro
the time of Charlemagne (1942: 32-4; 1993: 217);
Lateran triclinium mosaic, in its original phase,
emperors (1993: 217). As Krautheimer admitted, '
uno dei principali argomenti a favore della mia tesi'
his entire concept of the Carolingian Renaissanc
movements, north and south of the Alps (1980:
New data and interpretations continue to emer
and entirely new archaeological discoveries h
confuse commonly-accepted views of the subject
Constantinian church architecture in Rome,
fifth-century basilicas, makes much of Krauthe
opment out of date. The new category of
continuous apse ambulatories now entirely ou
Constantinian period (Tolotti, 1982; cf. also t
Catacombs of Callistus - Archeo, January 1992).
ambulatories at San Giovanni in Laterano and
more than likely (De Blaauw, 1986-7). Indeed
typological history of church architecture in Ro
Antonio Ferrua when Krautheimer first outlined

2 The three-apsed, galleried Santa Maria in Cosmedin


Nereo e Achilleo, also with galleried aisles as well as 'Syria
149).

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 1 79

dell'Archeologia Cristiana in 1947 {RAC 1949: 203). In 1969, w


study of Santo Stefano Rotondo, Krautheimer himself stat
attempt to interpret any historical development as a logica
play of types. Thinking in the abstract terms of a "ty
characteristic of German art history of the period . . .'
this, almost all scholars at the present time continue to fo
thesis.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the two dar
account, those periods between popes Honorius I (ad 638
from Nicholas I (860) to the end of the tenth century. Kra
the building activity of the former period seem to have cl
single building remains from the more than 100 years bet
Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura (625-38) and that of Sant'An
(1980: 93). No one has bothered to investigate the archi
Rome. Instead, the chronology and 'darkness' of the dark a
with no evidence, and even with misinterpretation of exis
the story is taken up again in the late eighth century, we ar
of two hundred years, churches were once again sumptuou
and paintings' (Mitchell, 1990: 221). In Rome, the centre
'between 590 and 772 we have record of only three new
1988: 30-1; repeated by Carandini (1993: 32)). As for th
not even merited a disparaging quote, beyond Krauthe
860 ecclesiastical architecture in Rome seems to come
worth mentioning was built in Rome from this date up to t
(1942:23).
In this article I propose to assemble the evidence for a pr
church building in the two dark ages of the later seventh/early
tenth century. I intend to include all new-built or entirely
city of Rome and its immediate environs (no individual stru
mile will be considered). Small oratories3 constructed with
those inside Saint Peter's, will be omitted. In discussing
for the first time, it is hoped that the 'Carolingian Renais
clearly in context and that the overall development of eccl
early medieval Rome will take on a more plausible guise.

LIBER PONTIFICALA

Before considering individual structures it is essential to take into accoun


our textual record of building activity, the more so since, lacking substant
3 The definition of an 'oratory' is difficult. Testini (1968: 248-9) believed that the t
term for four types of cult building: those in private houses, those in monasteries, those in
those in the countryside. The oratories in Saint Peter's would not fit into this scheme. Fur
same text will often refer indiscriminately to one building as 'oratorium', 'ecclesia', and/
Sant'Euplo, Sant'Andrea and San Benedetto di Thermis, all considered below). In this di
the English word 'oratory' to signify a small, single-naved cult building, usually situated w
complex.

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1 80 ROBERT CO ATES-STEPHENS

traces, we are so heavily reliant on written sour


subject. Our most important text for information
without doubt, the Liber Pontificalis,
This text's remarkably rich building referenc
Constantine to the end of the ninth century an
documents, are generally taken at face value - t
references is taken as a reflection of the full extent
1988: 32 and table 1). However, such an interpret
nature of the text - written continuously over a pe
anonymous authors - precludes any possibility of c
foundations range from the extraordinarily full ac
Sylvester and Innocent I (to take only two exam
properties presented to new churches and their exa
most cursory 'hie fecit basilicarrí for foundations of
example, the works of Julius I, including San
Trastevere). Furthermore, there are those biogra
towards 'pure' history - politics, theological disp
which gloss over building activity with a generic 'h
is the case with Nicholas I (858-67), at the beginning
Pontificalis CVII, 81). Again, this time in the heart o
that Gregory II (715-31) 'renewed various church
would take too long to list' [Liber Pontificalis XCI,
such vague notices with the building-by-building
campaigns given in the biographies of the 'Carol
and Paschal I.
It is certainly easier to understand the apparently vast contrast between th
building activities of the dark age popes and their counterparts of the Carolingian
Renaissance if we appreciate fully that our traditional picture of building develop-
ment draws so heavily upon descriptions in this one text. It should not therefo
cause surprise that the tenth century - a period generally considered entirely bere
of architecture in Rome - coincides exactly with the complete disappearance of the
Liber Pontificalis. As we shall see when we consider the buildings of the second dar
age, it is necessary to look to entirely new (and, for many archaeologists, le
convenient) sources for the tenth century, a period which in fact proves to b
remarkably rich in private architectural patronage.
A further, perhaps more serious, textual imbalance is that the Liber Pontificalis
actually omits many building projects known from other, more disparate, sources.
Many of these comprise works carried out by secular, or at least non-papal patrons
which would obviously not interest papal biographers. Apart from the example
from our first dark age, to be considered below, these would include the numerous
private religious institutions mentioned for the first time in the donation list of Leo
III in 807 {Liber Pontificalis XCVII, 69-81; Davis 1992: 175-8). Occasionally, even
papal works are not recorded: Domnus's late seventh-century conversion of th
Secretarium Senatus into the church of Santi Martina e Luca (Franchi de Cavalieri,
1903: 222); Sergius I's reconstruction of the shrine to Saint Paul at the Tre Fontane
in 689 (De Rossi, 1869a: 87); John VIFs rebuilding of the Subiaco monasteries

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 181

around 700 (Kehr, 1961: 91); and Gregory IPs role in t


Cassino in 717 (Paul the Deacon VI, 40) are examples falling
never taken into account in the standard, Liber Pontifical
Where the Liber Pontificalis does furnish informati
number of stock expressions are used. Certain scholars, ch
shown some interest in the precise interpretation of such p
important in any discussion of the architecture of this per
between restorations, substantial rebuildings, new con
conversion of existing structures. Nowhere, however, doe
survey of building descriptions in the Liber Pontificalis. To
of the construction activity of our first dark age, I h
concordance between, on the one hand, those buildings wh
analysed using evidence other than the Liber Pontificalis, an
expression given for their construction or conversion in the
the Appendix) . This enables us to make a clearer interpre
when they appear in the text with no corroborative ev
epigraphy or other sources. The conclusions - that is, the
Liber Pontificalis expression - are given in detail in t
referred to continually in the discussion which follows.

THE FIRST DARK AGE, ad 640-772

SANT'EUPLO, ad 642-9
This church was first mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis biography of Pope Theodore:
( fecit et oratorium beato Euplo martyris foris porta beati Pauli apostoli quern etiam ornavi?
(LXXXV, 5). When Hadrian I restored the portico running to San Paolo fuori le
Mura he included work on Sant'Euplo, by now termed 'ecclesia' {Liber Pontificalis
XCVII, 74). It is mentioned again in a property document from Sant'Alessio in 1 145
as a border of a rented plot: 'aprimo later e est murus civitatis et meta [that is, the pyramid
of Cestius], a secundo latere est via publica et ecclesia sancii Eupli (Monaci, 1904: 384). Its
position has therefore been placed at the entrance to the portico, almost contiguous
with the Porta Ostiensis (Armellini, 1942: 1,147). The disappearance of Sant'Euplo
from the sources coincides with the first references to San Salvatore de Porta, which
stood in just this location until its destruction in 1849. As Duchesne noted (1886: I,
334, n. 12), it seems likely that San Salvatore represented a rebuilding of the older
church, but to what extent it is impossible to say. Achille Pinelli's 1834 watercolour
of San Salvatore shows a very small structure with a simple stucco fafade; brickwork
visible beneath the plaster to either side of the central door may be late medieval
(Fig- I)-4

4 Armellini (1942: 1,147) and Huelsen (1927: 250) gave no evidence for their belief that
Sant'Euplo and San Salvatore were entirely different churches. Panciroli (1600: 750) and Martinello
(1653: 301) related an ancient tradition which saw San Salvatore as the (miraculous) conversion of a
Roman house of Plautilla, who offered her veil to Saint Paul as a blindfold at his execution.

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1 82 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 1. San Salvatore di Porta. Watercolour by Achille P

The form of Theodore's original church, however


'faceré* is impossible to interpret precisely, especially
can be seen in the Appendix, below. Sant'Eup
conversion or an entirely new work. The suggestion
V, 84) that it was merely a shrine within the Porta
the later references to it as 'ecclesia', and also throug
uses the church and the city walls as two, separate,
piece of land. In 1866 De Rossi could still see the
believed was San Salvatore, in the Vigna Paracciani,
(De Rossi, 1866: 33). Recovered from the same site w

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 183

shield-motif decoration typical of the fifth century and a


Constantius or Constantina, datable on epigraphic grou
centuries. Found in the same vineyard was a late medi
Salvatore which referred to an altare superius (Forcella, 1
suggested to De Rossi that by the late Middle Ages
sotterraneo', that is, in Theodore's original oratory, by th
We might therefore imagine three phases at the site.
(denoted by the sarcophagus and inscription), presuma
followed by the 'ecclesia' of Theodore (later the 'altare sot
church of San Salvatore. Theodore's church could then hav
conversion of a mausoleum, perhaps a similar edifice t
Portuensis. Again, it might have been built as new, a
containing the sarcophagus. In this case, the latter w
sotterraneo' and Sant'Euplo itself would have containe
Salvatore would represent either an entire rebuilding o
rededication. Further evidence for the continuity between
from the late medieval inscription, now displayed in the
reused fragment of liturgical furniture which bears an int
typical of eighth-century work. It could therefore have f
restoration of Sant'Euplo.
In short, if we accept that Theodore's Sant'Euplo was m
Salvatore (whose simple plan appears in FUR, tav. 44), w
more than a single-naved, apsed hall, measuring c. 14.0 m
to the surviving chapel of San Venanzio at the Lateran. Th
John IV and completed by Theodore himself, partially reu
preserves early seventh-century masonry oí opus vittatum

SAN PIETRO, VIA PORTUENSIS, ad 672-6


This is first mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis as having been rebuilt by Deodatus:
'Hie ecclesiam beati Petri qui est via Portuense, iuxta ponte Menili, ut decuit restaurava atque
dedicavi? {Liber Pontificalis LXXIX, 4). We hear of it no more until 1034, when a
document from Santa Maria in Via Lata mentions an 'ecclesia destructor in a property
at the site (Hartmann, 1895-1901: 1, 81). The ruins were seen by Flavius Biondus in
the mid-fifteenth century (VZ IV, 268). Topographical research has identified
Deodatus's church with a building discovered during the construction of the
Rome-Civitavecchia railway in the mid-nineteenth century and described in
summary fashion by Pellegrini (1860) before its destruction. The church, compared
by the excavator to Santo Stefano on the Via Latina, had a basilica form measuring
in total 25.0 m by 14.0 m. The walls stood to a height of more than 1 .0 m, but we are
not told anything of their materials except that they were 'pessime costruzioni'
(Pellegrini, 1860: 19). The colonnades were formed ofspolia columns of pavonazzetto
and cipollino of varying dimensions. Some fragments of capitals were found, but no
trace of architraves; we might therefore imagine the aisles were arcaded. The
pavement of the aisles was formed of fragments of marble slabs; the nave was of
opus alexandrinum. The church had been decorated with mosaic and painted plaster.

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1 84 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

How much of these remains was the work o


'Restauravi in the Liber Pontificalis is a particularly
seventh century when it usually appears with n
interventions use the expression 'renovavit atque r
Appendix) . However, the fact that Deodatus also d
the work suggests that it had been out of use for
intervention amounted to a complete rebuilding
and capitals could all have been reused from th
surviving traces of decoration (plaster and fresco,
drinum) might all be attributed to Deodatus. It
standing wall was not described. If the walls were
attribution to Deodatus rather than to the early
likely.

SANTI PIETRO E PAOLO, VIA OSTIENSIS, ad 676-8


The only certain reference to this mysterious church comes from the Liber Pontificalis,
where Domnus's work here is described in exactly the same terms as Deodatus's
intervention at San Pietro, above: 'ecclesiam Apostolorum sita via Ostense ut decuit
restauravit atque dedicavi? (Liber Pontificalis LXXX, 1 ) . A donation of vela to the 'ecclesia
sanctorum principium apostolorum Petri et Paul? by Zacharias in the mid-eighth century is
generally interpreted as a poorly-copied reference to the churches of Saint Peter's
and of San Paolo fuori le Mura, rather than referring to Domnus's building [Liber
Pontificalis XCIII, 19: Davis, 1992: 44, n. 68). In the later Middle Ages a chapel
known as San Crocefisso occupied a site half a mile from the Porta Ostiensis on the
site where Saints Peter and Paul were believed to have parted on their way to
execution: this building has been tentatively identified as Domnus's church (Armel-
lini, 1942: 1,148). It was rebuilt in the mid-sixteenth century on the opposite side of
the road (Tommassetti, 1979: V, 86). No traces of the earlier building have ever been
recorded, and any reconstruction of the seventh-century structure is at present
impossible.

SAN GIORGIO IN VELABRO, ad 682-3


The precise origin of this well-known church in the pontificate of Leo II depends
primarily on a tenth-century interpolation to his life in the Liber Pontificalis'. 'huius . . .
iussu aecclesia iuxta velum aureum in honore beati Sebastiani edificata est, necnon in honore
martyris Georgi' (Liber Pontificalis LXXXII). Certainly the church existed before
the time of Zacharias (741-52), who deposited the head of Saint George there
(Liber Pontificalis XCIII, 24). Nor are there any secure references to it before Leo II.5
In the Liber Pontificalis the verb 'aedificare' denotes new building work (see the
Appendix) . The use of 'iussu' might imply that Leo's role was to grant the permit

The 'basilica quae appellatur sancii Georg? in the text known as 'Istae vero ecclesiae intus Romae habentur'
is certainly our San Giorgio; however, this reference has now been proved to be later than 755, rather
than earlier than 650, as was previously believed (Geertman, 1975: 158-63).

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 185

for construction, that is, of a privately-funded work


exclusion of the foundation in most editions of the Liber P
Saint Sebastian at Leo's time would also fit well with the tradition that it was this
saint who had saved Italy from the plague of 680: we know of an altar erected to
Sebastian in Pavia's San Pietro in Vincoli after the plague, and a seventh-century
mosaic of the saint survives today in Rome's San Pietro in Vincoli.6 In short, we can
accept the foundation of San Giorgio in Velabro by Leo II. The controversial
questions concern the appearance of Leo's church in its original phase.
A recent analysis of the surviving structure of San Giorgio, together with
information gained during the restoration after the car-bomb explosion in front of
the church in July 1993, has confirmed Krautheimer's assertion that the present
three-aisled building is substantially the work of Gregory IV, who rebuilt the church
between 831 and 833 (Castelli, 1994-5; CBCR I, 263-4; Liber Pontificalis CHI, 14).
However, from Muñoz's plan of structures found below the modern pavement in
1926, it is possible to reconstruct an earlier, slightly smaller, aisled basilica which can
only be that of Leo II7 (Muñoz, 1926: fig. 6; our Fig. 2). It measured c. 28 m by 14.3
m, with an apse c. 5.0 m in diameter, and a fafade precisely as wide as the surviving
thirteenth-century portico (Castelli, 1994-5: 150). It is possible that most of the
heterogeneous spolia elements in the surviving church, including a column formed
from two separate shafts and various capitals and plutei dated from the fourth to the
seventh centuries, were reused by Gregory IV from the seventh-century basilica.8
Textual evidence for the importance, and the impressive scale, of Leo's church
comes from the Liber Pontificalis biography of Leo III (795-816). By this time, it was
already an 'ancient tradition' that the Major Litany was announced there every year
on 23 April {Liber Pontificalis XCVIII, 11). The building is described as having an
altare mains, and the weight of the silver crown donated in 807 - 5.5 lb - places it in
the company of such churches as Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Santa Balbina and
San Crisogono {Liber Pontificalis XCVIII, 104, 75).

6 Paul the Deacon VI, 5. For the plague in Rome, see, Liber Pontificalis LXXXI, 16.
Castelli has given the clearest reconstruction, but dated the earlier basilica to the fifth/sixth
centuries on the basis of surviving sculpture apparently of that period, and a mistaken dating of the
'Istae vero ecclesiae' text (see note 5; 1994-5: 126, 155-6, figs 29-30, 35-7).
As is usual with such material, there is little agreement on dating. Melucco Vaccaro found none
of the pre-ninth-century sculpture to be later than the fifth century (1974: 63); Muñoz assigned various
plutei to the fifth/sixth centuries (1926: 33, fig. 30-2); Giannettini and Venanzi dated two schematic
ionic capitals to the seventh century (1967: 72, fig. 20). These capitals, and Muñoz's plutei fragments,
bear no resemblance to well-dated work of the sixth or the eighth and ninth centuries in Rome, and for
this reason might well belong to the 'dark age' of the seventh century. Regarding the important
question of the attribution of movable architectural sculpture, it seems to me that if there is a reasonable
amount of material in a building (that is, more than one or two pieces) which is clearly older than the
building, as well as independent evidence for an earlier structure of similar type on the site, it would be
logical to assign the sculpture to that earlier phase. Otherwise we must assume that, when the new
structure was erected, (a) all the original sculptural elements had disappeared, and that (b) additional
material, from the same era as the older structure, was obtained from a different place - a solution
which requires too many coincidences to be sustained. The question is usually complicated, however, by
uncertain dating of both the sculpture and the buildings (as, to a certain extent, here at San Giorgio -
see note 7, above)! This subject will be re-encountered below, in the discussion of the churches of the
tenth century.

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186 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 187

SANTI SIMPLICIO, FAUSTINO E BEATRICE, ad 682-3


This church was founded by Leo II, as we learn from the Liber Pontificalis: 'Hie fecit
ecclesiam in urbe Roma iuxta sancta Viviana ubi et corpora sanctorum Simplici, Faustini,
Beatricis atque aliorum mar ty rum recondidit et ad nomen beati Pauli apostoli dedicavi? {Liber
Pontificalis LXXXII, 5; the church is occasionally referred to as San Paolo by modern
scholars). By the time of Leo Ill's donation list (807) there was a convent at the
neighbouring Santa Bibiana which seems to have absorbed at least the dedications of
Leo IPs church [Liber Pontificalis XCVIII; Davis, 1992: 215 n. 152). The building
itself survived, at least in ruins, until the seventeenth century when Bosio copied Leo
IPs inscription: 'si vedono vicino della chiesa di S. Bibiana, e quasi contiguo a quella, le rovine
d' un altra chiesa nelle cui parietine rimane tuttavia quest3 iscrizione neW istesso muro' (1632:
585). Armellini was still able to detect some remains at the end of the last century: 'ne
restano ancora le tracce a ridosso di quella di S. Bibiana" (1942: 996).
From this it is clear that Leo's church was a different building from Santa
Bibiana, but due to the Liber Pontificalis wording we cannot know whether it was
newly-constructed or simply the conversion of a pre-existing structure, perhaps a
part of the supposed martyr Bibiana's own house (LTUR I, 194; II, 101). Bufalini's
map of 1551 shows Santa Bibiana positioned within a large rectangular complex,
itself subdivided into square chambers (Frutaz, 1962: tav. 193). Since Armellini
located Leo's church behind Santa Bibiana, and since the left flank of Santa Bibiana
was occupied by a portico in the seventeenth century [CBCR I, 93), we should
identify the seventh-century church with one of Bufalini's square structures behind
the apse of Santa Bibiana. In the light of this it is notable that by the time of
Lanciani's Forma Urbis Romae only these parts of Bufalini's complex were standing,
apparently in a ruinous state {FUR, tav. 24; our Fig. 3).
Nothing now survives of Leo's church. The original abandonment and destruc-
tion of the fabric might date to 1562, when various materials were despoiled from
Santa Bibiana for the construction of Pius IV's casino at the Vatican (Lanciani,
1989-92: III, 248). By 1653 an inscription from San Simplicio had found its way into
the pavement of Santa Bibiana (Martinello, 1653: 82). If we assume a general
spoliation of San Simplicio at this time, it is possible that fragments of decorated
marble plutei, discovered when Santa Bibiana's pavement was re-laid in the 1950s
and now fixed to the wall of a chamber in the portico, also originate from Leo's
church.

SANT'ANDREA, VIA LABICANA, ad 687-701


This was rebuilt by Sergius I, according to the Liber Pontificalis: 'Hie oratorium sancti
Andreae apostoli, quiponitur Lavicana, a solo refecit [Liber Pontificalis LXXXVI, 13). We
have here a clear reference to substantial construction work (see the Appendix). The
great problem is to identify the church. Duchesne connected it with one of a group of
churches dedicated by Gelasius I (492-6) at a 'Villa Pertusa" on the Via Labicana:
'dedicavit . . . alias basilicas sanctorum Meandri, Eleutheri et Andreae in via Lavicana, in villa
Pertusa" [Liber Pontificalis LI, 5). This estate is believed to have occupied territory
somewhere between the sixth and tenth miles (Tommassetti, 1979: III, 485). The
basilicas have never been found. Apart from a document of 1065 which names a

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188 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 3. Plan of Santa Bibiana (left) and adjacent structur

'S. Andrea iuxta via Lavicanensis' (believed by Tom


Latina - 1979: IV, 430), there are no further m
Just beyond the fifth mile of the modern Via
Via di Torre Spaccata, is an antique structu
toponym was transferred to the building as r
(1902: 231; previously the name had been appl
Some commentators attribute Maura to a folk-me
from a letter of Gregory II (Tommassetti, 1979:
ruin in question, an apsed three-aisled basilic
15.0m, has never been identified (Fig. 4).
In the absence of fresh excavations or any pre
this site and the Villa Pertusa of the Liber Pontifi
of the so-called Santa Maura as Sergius Fs San
hypothesis. However, it is the only surviving
supposed area of the Villa Pertusa estate on
Gelasius's site formed a complex of churches, an
group of subsidiary buildings adjacent to Sant
apsed structure (Quilici, 1974: 746). Nearby rema
late period' seen by Ashby and a concrete cist
represent more vestiges of Gelasius's original vil
setti, 1979: 111,481).
The surviving remains of Santa Maura consi
displaying a somewhat disordered combinatio

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 189

Fig. 4. Plan of Santa Maura (a) and the adjacent basilica (b). (From

Fig. 5. The exterior of the apse and the end wall of Santa Maura.

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190 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 6. Drawing of the medieval church of Santa Maria i


panorama of Rome (1474). (From Frutaz, 1962: t

technique is notoriously difficult to date, being u


from Hadrianic times at least up until the late M
of the tufelli and bricks, the lack of bonding
caprices within the masonry would all point to a l
the periods of Gelasius and Sergius I is impossible
now, the dating and attribution must remain ope

SANTA MARIA IN SASSIA, ad 727


According to the English sources, this was founded during Ine's stay in Rome under
the pontificate of Gregory II. Regarding Ine, Matthew Paris wrote: 'Fecit, iuxta
domum prefatam, ecclesiam in honorem beatae Virginis Mariae fabrican, in qua Anglis Romam
advenientibus celebrar entur officia?? The Liber Pontificalis first mentions the church after
the fire which devastated the Borgo during Leo IV's pontificate; it was rebuilt 'a
fundamentis' by Leo and furnished with textiles {Liber Pontificalis CV, 86). There is no
reason to doubt the early dating of the original construction: it is normal practice for
the Liber Pontificalis to omit buildings funded from non-papal sources.
The present building on the site is the work of Antonio da Sangallo. Since there
has never been any excavation here, a reconstruction of the early medieval church is
impossible. The vedute prior to the late sixteenth century should, however, reflect the

Chronica Majora I, 330-1. Gregorovius (1894, II, 427) gave the alternative version of the so-
called Matthew of Westminster: ' Fecit - ecclesiam in hon. b. virg. Mariae\

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 191

Fig. 7. Drawing of Santa Maria in Aquiro (left) and San Trifone (righ
of Rome (1577). (From Frutaz, 1962: tav. 251)

form of the ninth-century phase. The clearest drawing, b


have been entirely unlike any other of Leo IV's church
Maria is shown as a simple two-cell structure, formed of
the latter apparently the larger part. From such slender e
much to draw parallels with known early medieval Sa
which display box-like plans of nave and chancel, s
Bradford-on-Avon, Our Lady at Seaton Delaval, or Sai
However, the decidedly non-Roman form of Strozzi's
something to the pre-Leonine building of Ine.

SANTA MARIA IN AQUIRO, ad 731-42


This was first mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis when it was rebuilt by Gregory III:
'basilicam sanctae Dei genetricis quae appellatur Acyro, in qua antea diaconia et parvum
oratorium fuit, earn a fundamentis longiorum et latiorum construxit atque depinxit [Liber
Pontificalis XCII, 12). It is with Gregory III that the building references in the text
start to take on the precision and detail which will later displace the historical
narrative at the end of the eighth century. ''Construxit a fundamentis'' is the strongest
phrase used to denote substantial building activity in the Liber Pontificalis, whose
reliability can be confirmed from archaeological evidence (see the Appendix) . Thus
we should interpret Gregory Ill's intervention at Santa Maria as new building work:
the reconstruction of a small oratory 'from the foundations' as a new, much larger
basilica.10

10 For a discussion of the original foundation see Falesiedi (1995: 124-5).

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1 92 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

The present building on the site was erected by F


Any attempt to reconstruct Gregory's church is
theory that there was an intermediate rebuilding d
amounted to the construction of a new church. Thi
two altana minora were dedicated in 1 179 and 1295
Forcella, 1869-84: II, nos. 1,333-4). The inscription
claims, and we may therefore assume that Ugoni
1588 reflects Gregory's new church. Preceded by a
aisles, divided by sixteen columns, with a raised
Bufalini and Du Pérac show the pre-1590 church
with one apse (Fig. 7; Frutaz, 1962: tav. 202, 248f
Archaeological information regarding this buil
Pius IX's restoration work, the floor of the 1590 ch
pavement was discovered 0.4 m beneath. It occupied
space with the exception of the tribune, transept a
51 - not, as Krautheimer stated, simply the pre
described thus: 'a disegno bizantino, composto . . . di piet
porfido e serpentino a rettangoli di volgari lineamenti e
Other fragments were executed with 'better taste'.
modern pavement of the tribune, and is evidently
assume this work to be connected with the dedicati
the rest, of 'cattivo lavoro', could plausibly be a
Unfortunately, no more details were recorded. On
by the medieval pavement we might imagine Grego
by 18.0 m - a large structure, commensurate with t
Leo III in 807 (the same weight as those received
and San Marcello - Liber Pontificalis XCVIII, 70-
floor space from FUR, tav. 15).
Falesiedi has recently discovered substantial l
halls built in opus vittatum, at the much greater de
occupy the area beneath the sixteenth-century tr
church. Falesiedi found no remains of the pavement
those parts of the church he investigated, nor any
position of Gregory's church. It therefore seems like
sixteenth-century rebuilding and by the works of P
continue in the immediate future.

SANTI SERGIO E BACCO, ad 731-41


This was another diaconia enlargement of Gregory III: 'diaconiam sanctorum Sergii et
Bachi sitam ad beatum Petrum apostolum, in qua pridem parvum oratorium erat, afundamentis
ampliori fabrica dilatavi? (Liber Pontificalis XCII, 13). This would seem to have been a
similar but less substantial project to the above. The only other possible textual
reference to the foundation is in the twelfth-century list of Cencius Camerarius,
where a 'S. Ser gius palatii Carult , also at the Vatican, is mentioned. This led Duchesne
to suggest that the diaconia was converted into the palace used by the ninth-century

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 193

missus imperatoris, and that the actual oratory was preser


appellation (Duchesne, 1892: II, 43, n. 79). The precise lo
marked by Alpharani in his plan of old Saint Peter's as ' I',
north transept - although he gives no evidence for such a
50 and plan; our Fig. 8). Severano followed this identificati
had seen any remains of either Santi Sergio e Bacco or
Giovanni e Paolo. He described them as 'due grandi chiese a
were found 'ancora molti e grandi vestigi) di altre fabriche ant
suggests that the account was based on archaeological e

SANTI MARCELLINO E PIETRO, ad 731-41


This is the church on the Via Merulana as opposed to the cemetery basilica on the
Via Labicana. It was rebuilt by Gregory III: c Fecit vero a novo ecclesiam sanctorum
Marcellini et Petri iuxta Lateranis' {Liber Pontificalis XCII, 13). Evidence of the original
church comes from excavations made during the construction of the entirely new
church under Benedict XIV in 1751, where a fragmentary inscription of Pope
Siricius (384-98) was discovered, which suggested he dedicated a building con-
structed by a private individual from 'sumptu proprio' (Armellini, 1942: 276).

Fig. 8. Plan of Santi Sergio e Bacco, Saint Peter's. (From FUR, tav. 13, after Alpharani)

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1 94 ROBERT CO ATES-STEPHENS

Secondly, we know that the church's priest Albinus


synod of 595 (Duchesne, 1886: I, 424, n. 29).
Gregory Ill's work would seem to represent a sub
from the Liber Pontificalis expression 'fecit vero a n
plan made by Bianchini during the church's demoliti
can reconstruct a three-aisled, three-apsed structur
measuring c. 30 m by 24 m (the left aisle had collap
and the nave was walled up in 1589 - Cecchelli an
Fig. 9). The attribution of the three-apsed plan to
fact that the right apse was dedicated to Gregory I
pope) and later reconsecrated by Alexander IV in
this date). Indeed, it has been proposed that the can
precisely during Gregory Ill's pontificate (Rushfort
discovered in ruins in 1751, was dedicated to unkno
clear eighth-century date and a pavement of 'opere
n.d.: 34, pluteus illustrated by Bianchini).
The church was reconsecrated by Alexander IV
inscription surviving in the eighteenth-century bu
609). The few descriptions and drawings we have fr
therefore depict a late medieval rebuilding phase, alt
inscription. Indeed, any work after that of Gregor
reduction in the size of the eighth-century church
having its entrance in the right-hand aisle, a conditi

Fig. 9. Santi Marcellino e Pietro: plan of the basilica of Grego


[From FUR, tav. 30, after Bianchini)

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 195

Maravigliose" (Ugonio, 1588: 148; illustrated in Arme


judging from the Santi drawing, Alexander must have co
campanile at the front of the central nave, thus blocking
front part of the right aisle was converted to a separate u
The reduced two-aisle church displayed the following
in 1588, which we should associate with Gregory's rebuil
sunken confessio, masonry benches running around b
columns and a pilaster dividing the nave and aisle, an
6 tavole di marmo e di varia intarsiatura lastricato' (1588:
Vacca observed a 'grossa muraglia fondata sopra quadri di taver
church (Lanciani, 1989-92: II, 113). Bearing in min
quadratum blocks for the foundations of Sant'Angelo
later churches, it would be tempting to imagine tha
represented a similar structure laid by Gregory Ill's build

SANT'EUSEBIO, ad 741-52
Until very recently, the accepted account of Sant'Eusebio was Krautheimer's survey
of the 1930s: that the fifth-century titulus remained nothing but a humble house-
church until its rebuilding as a basilica in the twelfth or thirteenth century (CBCR I,
210-16). Recently, Fusciello (1993) has proposed that the enlargement took place
during the eighth century, under either Zacharias or Hadrian I. The plan of a three-
aisled basilica measuring c. 30 m by 19.0 m has been reconstructed from the presence
of characteristic eighth- or ninth-century masonry in various key points (Fig. 10).
The Liber Pontificalis tells us of two apparently large-scale restorations by the
afore-mentioned popes. After the original structure collapsed, Zacharias, 'cum tota sua
decertans virtute prudenterque elaborans, sicut antiquitius fuit, rursus quod ceciderat reparavit
atque optime restauravi? (Liber Pontificalis XCIII, 27). Only twenty years later Hadrian
I carried out further repairs: 'basilicam sancii Eusebii undique renovans restauravi? (Liber
Pontificalis XCVII, 74). In the language of the Liber Pontificalis, both interventions
would represent substantial building work, although the more generic character of
Hadrian's campaign is less striking. And in fact, the great effort which Zacharias is said
to have expended during his contribution would hardly be commensurate with the
reconstruction of a tiny house-church (shown by Krautheimer to have been centred
around two rooms, each about 6.0 m square - CBCR I, 215). In the absence of more
complete evidence, we might therefore assign the construction of the first basilica of
Sant'Eusebio to Zacharias's pontificate. The great scale of the undertaking could well
have meant that the building was only completed under Hadrian I.

SAN GREGORIO NAZIANZENO, ad 741-52


Our first certain reference to this church comes in the Liber Pontificalis biography of
Leo III, where it is mentioned in the list of donations made in 807: 'Fecit in oratorio
sancii Gregorii qui ponitur in Campo Martis canistrum ex argento, pens. lib. IIP [Liber
Pontificalis XCVIII, 80). The somewhat provisional dating of its original construc-
tion to the pontificate of Zacharias depends on two factors: firstly, its masonry type,

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196 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 10. Sant'Eusebio: Fusciello's reconstruction of the eigh


fig- 20)

typical of well-dated buildings from 755-855 and, secondly, the monastery chronicle
of the neighbouring Santa Maria in Campo Marzio. Here it is recounted that Greek
nuns fleeing the iconoclast persecutions in Constantinople under Constantine V
arrived in Rome in 750, carrying with them the relics of Saint Gregory Nazianzenus.
They were granted lands in the Campus Martius by Zacharias, and built two
oratories, one at the Temple of Minerva, the other that which survives today as San
Gregorio Nazianzeno (Martinetto, 1653: 188). Panciroli, writing slightly earlier,
used the same monastery chronicle (a manuscript of Iacinto de Nobili, a contem-
porary - Panciroli, 1600: 483). The belief that the monastery contained the relics of
Saint Gregory must go back much further than 1505, the date of a lost (but copied)
inscription which records their discovery during works at the convent (Boccardi
Storoni, 1987: 103).
The church of San Gregorio was virtually rediscovered during restorations in
the 1940s (Montenovesi, 1949; 1950), but the eighth-century date of its fabric was
not recognized for another 40 years, when it passed into the hands of the Camera dei
Deputati and underwent a more thorough restoration. During these later works much
of the early medieval masonry was covered in modern plaster (Borsi et ai, 1987).
The church is a single-naved, apsed structure, 16.3 m long and 7.0 m wide
(Fig. 11). The right-hand wall is built on top of, and partially extends, a wall formed
of irregularly-sized opus quadratum tufa blocks, clearly of Republican date. The raising
and lengthening of this tufa wall is executed in a mixture of spolia brickwork laid

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 197

Fig. 1 1 . San Gregorio Nazianzeno: longitudinal section, facing right

in undulating courses and reused tufa blocks, evidently ta


building.11 The entire left wall and the inside of the front
masonry. In a subsequent phase, a series of brick arc
against the side walls. The brickwork here is regularly-lai
formed of short, homogeneous bricks. Inside the arc
undulating brick side walls, are a number of well-preserv
In a final phase, the brick piers and arches were cut into
very large brick arches, one in each side wall, which exte
church's length. The building is roofed with a suspended
The most recent restoration report assigns the opus qu
century bc, the left-hand spolia wall to the time of L

11 A temple, according to Montenovesi (1949: 21; 1950: 219), p


alluded to by Ovid.

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1 98 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Pontificalis notice), the regular brick arches, apse,


century, and the large twin arches to the eighteent
105ff.). It would, however, seem more rational to
ninth-century masonry - that is, the left wall, the
and even the lower left section of the apse - to
(drawings of the walls prior to the restoration pr
73-5). This would also include the two brick 'capric
either the rising sun or the palm (Montenovesi, 19
found in the Leonine Walls and Santi Quattro Coro
many earlier Christian structures, although not as
therefore likely that the building in its present stat
complete form. More evidence for the original ph
come to light in the small side-chapel to the rig
oratory of the Immacolata) : a fresco has been mov
ancient masonry about 1.5 m square, which appe
spolia brickwork as the church. The purpose of th
formed a part of the monastery complex of the Gr
The precise date of the church is not obvious. It
when Leo III made his donation. But the masonry
between 755 and 855, would prevent a date very m
attribution of the building in the chronicle of
would seem unnecessarily sceptical to doubt the tr
the pontificate of Zacharias.

SANT'ANGELO IN PESCHERIA, ad 755


This is one of the few early medieval churches in Rome whose construction is
recorded in a surviving inscription, which states: 'temporibus domni / Stephani iunioris
papae Theodotus / holim dux nunc primicerius scae sedi / apostolicae et pater uius ben diac a solo /
edificavit pro intercessionem animae sua / et remedium omnium peccatorum* (MEC XIV, 3; for
the preferred dating by indiction see Liber Pontificalis (Davis, 1992: 52) ) . As is usual in
the Liber Pontificalis, this example of private funding is excluded, and the church
makes its first appearance in the text as 'diaconia beati Archangel? when it is given
vestments and liturgical vessels by Leo III [Liber Pontificalis XCVIII, 45, 75, 88,
108). Today, with the exception of its entrance through the monumental Roman
propylaeum of the Porticus Octaviae, the building preserves a nineteenth-century
appearance, the result of a thorough rebuilding by Pius IX.
By now (755) we are emerging from the historical Dark Age, and the church has
been discussed in some detail by Krautheimer (CBCR I, 66ff.). The only traces of the
original phase are detectable behind the late medieval crypt. Here are preserved the
foundations and about 1.0 m of the rising walls of Theodotus's three apses. All are
constructed of massive opus quadratum blocks (at least twice the size of those at San
Gregorio Nazianzeno), laid with some regularity. As one of the few partially surviving
and securely-dated structures of the eighth century, Sant'Angelo serves as a bench-
mark for the dating of early medieval construction techniques in Rome. For this
reason it is exasperating that virtually no masonry in brick or opus vittatum survives.

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 199

The one exception is a tiny portion visible above the blocks


rough spolia brick, laid in irregular courses with sporadic use o
However, it seems that Sant'Angelo utilized much more
previously been imagined. A drawing of the exterior of th
been published since Krautheimer's original survey (Th
12). It shows the left aisle wall running on exactly the sam
(built in 1869, as we know from Parker photograph 275 of
to half of its height in the same tufa blocks visible today in th
of this opus quadratum wall, brick patching is visible. The upp
also of brick, and is opened by a single window. The very s

Fig. 12. Sepia drawing of the external, left, wall of Sant'Angelo in Pe


(1609). (From Thone, 1960: Taf. 15)

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200 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

above the last course of tufa blocks does not seem t


'rising sun' symbol, observed in a similar position
double row of corbels placed in the upper half of t
presence of a pitched timber roof running along th
portico or narthex.
A final feature of the eighth-century church wh
Thone's drawing is the possible presence of gallerie
of this left aisle wall. Panciroli tells us that one of
rebuild Sant'Angelo in 1611 was its extreme da
there was no clerestory and only a single high win
Magi's 1625 bird's eye view of Rome would sugg
retained the galleried aisles, but opened extra win
1962: tav. 315). Working from Frankl's plan, it wo
church measured c. 26m by 24m (CBCR I, pl. X

SANTI PIETRO E PAOLO, VIA SACRA, ad 757-67


This enigmatic church was apparently built by Paul I: 'Hie fecit noviter ecclesiam . . . in
Via Sacra iuxta templum Rome in honore sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Paul? [Liber
Pontificalis XCV, 6). There is, however, absolutely no clear reference to it thereafter,
until Antonio Bruzio's claim, in the seventeenth century, that it was demolished by
Paul III (Armellini, 1942: 193).12 The various topographical arguments over the
identification of the toponym 'Templum Rome' seem to have been settled by
Castagnoli (1947), who proved that at this time the Temple of Venus and Rome
was still intended. Of the various suggestions put forward for the location of Santi
Pietro e Paolo, only one answers the problem of the church's almost immediate
disappearance from the sources. This is that it was located on the site of Leo IV's
later Santa Maria Nova, and was either demolished when the new church was built,
or else incorporated in its structure (Lanciani, 1890: 494; Prandi, 1937: 227; CBCR I.
222, nn. 3-4). Such a location is also right next to the Temple of Venus and Rome.1
The Liber Pontificalis term 'fecit noviter' is very hard to interpret archaeologically,
but when additional information is given it seems most commonly used to denote
repair-work.14 We might therefore expect that Santi Pietro e Paolo was simply
installed within a pre-existing building. If we accept the most logical location for the
church, given above, Paul's building would have been a reused adjunct of the
Temple of Venus and Rome, destroyed during (or before) the construction of Santa
Maria Nova.

12 The reference in the eighth itinerary of the Einsiedeln List - 'Sancii Cosmae et Damiani Palatiu
Neronis Aeclesia Sancii Petri Ad Vincula Arcus Tit? - almost certainly refers to San Pietro in Vinco
despite Valentini and Zucchetti's claim to the contrary (VZ II, 195). Bruzio's manuscript has nev
been published, and I have been unable to consult the original; whether he gives any evidence for h
claim is unclear.
De Rossi proposed that Paul's church reused a frescoed apse of the Basilica of Maxentius (1867:
70) , while Boni opted for the vaulted hall opposite the Temple of Romulus (1899: 267) . Neither answers
the question of the church's 'disappearance', nor are their ideas backed up with any firm evidence.
As with Gregory Ill's repairs to the roof of Sant Andrea at the Vatican and Hadrian I's repairs
at San Marco, San Tiburzio, Santa Prisca and Saint Peter's (Liber Pontificalis XCII, 11; XCVII, 49, 50,
51, 74).

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 201

SAN SILVESTRO IN CAPITE, ad 761


The monastery of Saints Stephen and Silvester, founded by Paul I in his own house,
included the new-built church of San Dionisio: 'ecclesiam mirae pulchritudinis a
fundamentis noviter construxit, quam musito et marmoribus decorans" (Liber Pontificalis
XCV, 5; CBCR IV, 160 for the precise date and dedication). The surviving
church of San Silvestro in Capite, built by Francesco da Voi terra in 1591 - 1601,
preserves sufficient remains of Paul's church to enable a summary reconstruction
(CBCR IV, 157-9). Built on foundations of reused opus quadratum tufa blocks, it was a
three-aisled basilica measuring in total c. 33 m by 20 m. At least two columns from
the first church survive, enclosed within the sixteenth-century nave piers. Parts of the
original marble paving have been discovered both inside the church, and outside, in
what might have been its porch or even quadriporticus. None of the rising walls'
original masonry remains, nor has anything yet been discovered regarding the
sumptuous decoration referred to in the Liber Pontificalis. One piece of evidence for
the latter, however, has been overlooked.
In 1906-7, excavations uncovered the church's confessio, which had been filled
in during Volterra's rebuilding (NSA 1907: 680; 1908: 172; Marucchi, 1908: 260).
Apart from revealing the eighth-century foundations, mentioned above, the works
uncovered many fragments of classical statuary and architectural sculpture, which
had been thrown in amongst the fill by the sixteenth-century builders. Marucchi's
interpretation that this assemblage represented construction material from the
original church seems logical: the amount of masonry produced by the demolition
of the greater part of San Dionisio would have obviated the need for more rubble to
be brought on-site during Volterra's works; and we know that classical spolia were
used for the paving and colonnades of the first church. Three of the elements found
are particularly interesting for the reconstruction of Paul's church. These are
fragments of Roman trabeation decorated with grotesque bearded faces or masks
(NSA 1908: 232-3 and fig. 2; Kahler, 1937: Abb. 4-8; our Fig. 13). They are identical
to many other pieces in Rome, all of which have been reused as soffits for the apses of
a number of ninth-century churches. Indeed, no such pieces are known anywhere
else in the city, except for a second, larger fragment found behind the apse of San
Silvestro in 1876 (NSA 1876: 138). It is very likely that the examples from the confessio
excavation represent part of the original apse decoration of Paul's San Dionisio, and,
as such, the first cases of such a use oí spolia in early medieval Rome.15

THE FIRST DARK AGE: CONCLUSIONS

Such was the extent of new church building in the period 640-772. Befor
to summarize our findings, we should note some exclusions from the abov
The four mile limit from Rome which I have set for the buildings under
tion meant that the following rural churches have been ignored: Sant

15 The masks are still in place in the apses of Santi Nereo e Achilleo and San Martin
other examples are displayed inside Santa Prassede and Santi Quattro Coronati. Opinion
to which of the soffits are Roman and which are early medieval copies (Zito, 1967: 7
Vaccaro, 1974: 207-8). Those from San Silvestro are certainly Roman, probably originat
adjacent Temple of the Sun (Kahler, 1937; Moneti, 1990 (for the precise location of the

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202 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 13. San Silvestro in Capite: fragment of trabeation with a


the eighth-century confessio. (Courtesy of the German Archaeo

the twelfth mile of the Via Appia, which was ded


substantial rebuilding {Liber Pontificalis LXXX,
built or rebuilt at the five domuscultae founded by
XCIII, 19, 25-6). 16 As Ward-Perkins has noted
the period also saw continual maintenance of the c
the gigantic structures of Saint Peter's and San Pa
carried out by the popes outside Rome. In addition

16 Only Sant'Abbaciro, at the fifth mile of the Via Tiburti


new construction - but at the other domuscultae, as Davis not
the papacy had made no spiritual provision for the workfor

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 203

built within the Lateran and Saint Peter's.17 Lastly, among


considered above, there are new-built churches which have
the period between the seventh and eighth centuries but w
to incomplete excavation, destruction, or incorporation in
To summarize, we must first admit that a number of th
above remain mysterious to a greater or lesser extent: S
Paolo (Via Ostiensis), Sant5 Andrea (Via Labicana), Santi
Beatrice, and Santa Maria in Sassia. In terms of numbers
churches built between 640 and 772 compare favourably wi
to 860 - even if, admittedly, there is not the impressi
construction noted in the Carolingian period (see Table 1, b
be considered in more detail later). Regarding Krautheim
discussed in the introduction, we see a variety of archit
acteristics which evade clear-cut 'eastern and western' distinctions. The smaller
buildings - single-naved, apsed halls - would be hard to place in either camp. On
the other hand, we note the continuous use of the three-aisled basilica form (San
Pietro on the Via Portuensis, San Giorgio in Velabro, Santa Maria in Aquiro, Santi
Marcellino e Pietro, Sant'Eusebio, Sant'Angelo in Pescheria and San Silvestro in
Capite) - even if some bear witness to the 'eastern' characteristics of galleried aisles
and triple apses. Of this last group, it is worth noting the striking similarities in the
ground-plans of Santi Marcellino e Pietro and Sant'Angelo in Pescheria, both of
which have tapering, three-apsed, three-aisled layouts, and almost identical dimen-
sions. The anomalous Santa Maria in Sassia, on the other hand, may even represent
an importation of English tendencies!
Regarding the characteristics which are said to define the buildings of Car-
olingian Rome, it is interesting to note that many of these appear already in the
works of our dark age: three apses (Santi Marcellino e Pietro and Sant'Angelo in
Pescheria, which presage Santa Maria in Cosmedin and Santa Maria in Domnica),
the probable use of galleried aisles at Sant'Angelo in Pescheria, the building of
foundations with reused opus quadratura blocks (possibly at Santi Marcellino e Pietro,
at Sant'Eusebio, Sant'Angelo in Pescheria and San Silvestro in Capite), and the use
of such blocks in conjunction with spolia brick laid in undulating courses for rising
walls (San Gregorio Nazianzeno, Sant'Angelo in Pescheria). The works of Gregory

17 For example, Theodore's San Sebastiano, John VIFs Santa Maria, and Gregory Ill's and
Paul Ps oratories at Saint Peter's, all attested by the Liber Pontificalis. The rebuilding of a late domus as
the oratory of the monastery of San Saba is also dated to the mid-seventh century on textual grounds
(CBCRIV, 51ff.).
Apart from the unidentified and generally undated institutions of Leo Ill's donation list (Liber
Pontificalis XCVIII, 71-81), these include: San Cesareo de Appia (two rebuilt halls of a Roman villa
whose opus vittatum walls and frescos must be considerably later than 400 ad, but earlier than the upper,
late medieval church - Matthiae, 1955); an oratory built into the Basilica Julia, perhaps Santa Maria
de Foro (latest description and bibliography in Maetzke, 1991: 80-4); Bartoli's 'oratory of San
Giovanni in Campus', perhaps built into the ruins of the Basilica Emilia in the eighth century (1912:
762ff.); an oratory discovered on the Oppian in Via del Colosseo, dated by Lanciani to the seventh
century (1872: 73); remains of an eighth-century oratory beneath San Lorenzo in Fonte (CBCR II,
155-8); and possible oratories at the three new xenodochia of Stephen II, none of which survive in any
form today (Liber Pontificalis XCIV, 4; Davis, 1992: 54, nn. 6-7).

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204 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

III in particular show very strong similarities to th


Hadrian I. His reconstruction on a greatly enlar
Maria in Aquiro and Santi Sergio e Bacco at th
later pope's enlargement of Santa Maria in Cosm
the Forum. The strangely squat proportions of
also reminiscent of Van Heemskerk's drawing of H
and his church of Santa Cornelia at the domusculta
fig. 107; Christie, 1991). Gregory's expenditure on
at Rome and Civitavecchia), and the political im
followed by Hadrian {Liber Pontificalis XCII, 1
biases in the compilation of the Liber Pontificalis
above), it would be fair to consider the 730s, and
for the accelerated building programme which
Renaissance.

THE SECOND DARK AGE, ad 860-1000

As has been noted above, the study of early medieval architecture in Rome always
tails off at the same point that the Liber Pontificalis ceases. Like our first dark age, the
period now under discussion is very weak in terms of surviving buildings, which is
obviously another cause of its lack of study. Indeed, there is no detailed bibliography
for any church built in the city between Leo IV's Santa Maria Nova (c. 847) and
Paschal IPs San Clemente (1128).
My treatment of the churches of this period differs from that of the first dark
age. The larger number of buildings, coupled with the more exiguous evidence -
both physical and textual - means that what follows forms more of an overview of
church architecture in the tenth century than an exhaustive, building-by-building
survey. Also, lacking a reasonably consistent text such as the Liber Pontificalis, it is
very difficult to distinguish between 'new-built' and 'restored or converted' struc-
tures. I will discuss the subject in four subheadings: new-built churches which survive
in something approximating their original form; new-built churches which do not
survive; churches converted from ancient structures; and older churches which
underwent substantial repair-work.
Most of the evidence for the new construction of these churches comes from
property documents; often, we have little more to go on than an 'earliest reference to' a
certain building. In cases where the building may have disappeared, or been altered
radically, we may rely upon drawings by the Renaissance cartographers - but here,
obviously, only where the drawing pre-dates the earliest reconstruction phase.

SURVIVING NEW-BUILT CHURCHES

Santa Maria in Aventino

Santa Maria in Aventino is the only surviving church of the group of monaste
endowed or founded under the impetus of Alberic II in the mid-tenth cen

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 205

specifically during the period 932-54. It occupies the s


house, converted into a monastery in around 942 (Hamilto
survives as Santa Maria del Priorato, in the form giv
redecoration of 1 764-6. Although not a single surface was
monstrosities', it seems from a number of earlier drawin
new works, that the original fabric and dimensions were
xx; Cavallero and Montini, 1984: 59-73). It is a sing
measuring around 31 m by 12.0 m, lit before 1764 by a si
and four square windows in each side (Fig. 14). Bruzio desc
mid-seventeenth century: it had an open trussed roof, br
with frescos of the late Middle Ages, and one large reinf
each side wall (presumably like those at San Grego
Cavallero and Montini, 1984: 34). The marble liturg
resembled those familiar from the eighth and ninth centu
of a lion, a griffin and various 'ornamenti e fogliame' (it is pro
preserved in a modern memorial in the present church; a
outside left wall) . A small reliquary-altar in the secon
present church bears an inscription recording the dep
saints, including Saints Sabinus and Sebastian. It has
stylistic grounds from the sixth to the twelfth centuries; t
is a work executed for the original foundation of Alberic

Fig. 14. View of Santa Maria in Aventino (Anonymous, eighteent


restoration. (Vienna, Albertina, Roma 576)

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206 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Saint Sabinus of Spoleto could have been a gift fr


from the same city - Cavallero and Montini, 1

San Sebastiano al Palatino

San Sebastiano al Palatino is the church of the monastery founded shortly bef
by the doctor Peter (Ferrari, 1957: 220ff.). The complex is situated wit
precinct of Elagabalus's Temple of Sol Invictus, with the church standing on
of the pronaos, that is on the temple steps where, according to the fifth-cen
Passio, Saint Sebastian was sentenced to death (Gigli, 1975: 7, 21). Luigi Ar
reconstruction of the church in 1630 involved the destruction of the ruinous front and
side walls, whose frescos, copied by Antonio Eclissi, showed Peter presenting his
church to Saint Sebastian (Gigli, 1975: fig. 15a and ff.; our Fig. 15). The structure
which Peter holds appears in the background of many other scenes. The appearance
of this church suggests that the seventeenth-century building, with the exception of
its domed tribune, preserves the original plan of a single-naved apsed hall, measuring
around 22 m by 9.0 m. The church depicted in the frescos was lit by an oculus above
the central door and five small arched windows high up in each side (six are shown in
some scenes) . A brief description of San Sebastiano, made just before Arrigucci's
works by Antonio Riccioli, states that the side walls were built of brick and the
facade was adorned with four columns, two of marble and two of porphyry (Uccelli,
1876:81).

Fig. 15. Fresco copied by A. Eclissi from San Sebastiano al Palatino, showing Peter presenting a model
of the church to Saint Sebastian. (Cod. Vat. lat. 9071: 243)

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 207

The end wall of Peter's church, with its dispropor


survives today. The interior still bears substantial trac
observed in those parts where the plaster has fallen aw
reused tufa blocks. The left side wall's masonry is visible
height of 1.0 m. It rests on a foundation of Roman selce co
the temple steps). There follows 0.3 m oispolia brick befo
walling of short, buff-coloured bricks and well-squared, sm
only other traces of the tenth-century church are variou
short marble architraves, decorated with interlace reliefs
interior. The adjoining priest's house, a late medieval rem
buildings, displays a disparate set of marble corbels,
assigned to the eighth and ninth centuries; similar fragm
excavations in the monastery garden (Pannuzi, 1991).

San Tommaso in Formis

San Tommaso in Formis formed part of the monastery of the same name, k
the time of the Descriptio Lateranensis (c. 1073, in its earliest version) as one of the
important in the city (VZ III, 362). Most commentators suggest a foundat
early in the eleventh century, and we might imagine it as earlier still on the ba
masonry type (Armellini, 1942: 615; Ferrari, 1957: 331; Pavolini (1993:
noted a document of 1050 which refers to an 'abbas S. Thomaé* who could on
our monastery) . Most of the monastery complex, including a thirteenth-cen
cloister, was destroyed in 1925 when the Istituto Sperimentale per la Nutrizione del
was built. The entrance facade of the monastery, including a mosaic signed b
famous Cosmati, Iacobus, survives within the piers of the Aqua Claudia.
The church remains intact. It is a single-naved, apsed structure measurin
by 10.0 m externally (Fig. 16). With the exception of the fa9ade, a stucco cre
1663, all the external walls are oispolia brick. The courses undulate slightly a
bricks themselves are of heterogeneous size giving a modulus of c. 0.33 m. The
holes are more or less regularly spaced and framed with fragments of brick.
the height of the window-arches, sporadic rows of tufelli appear. Each side w
originally pierced by five, high, small, brick-arched windows; most were repl
the three large rectangular windows opened in each side during the 1663 res
under Alexander VII. The last original window on the right side and the
window on each side have been blocked with regular spolia brickwork. The f
in fact divided into an upper and lower zone: the upper includes a triangular
motif executed in brick, the lower a fragment of a gypsum transenna. T
corbelling is formed of three courses of bricks, supported on narrow, undec
marble corbels. The roof is sustained by six trusses. The masonry from the
the tops of the square windows upwards is of a very different type, formed
heterogeneous mix of rounded tufelli and brick fragments, and presumably
from the time of the last replacement of the roof trusses, probably during t
campaign. This latter phase is all that is visible inside the church. The w
entirely covered in plaster and the ceiling is formed by a suspended vau
pavement is modern. There is no trace of a crypt.

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208 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 16. General view of the church of San Tommaso in Formis.

It is interesting to compare this type of brickwork with that which was usual in
the late eighth- and ninth-century buildings in Rome. The brick courses of San
Tommaso tend to undulate, but not as noticeably as those of the earlier period. The
modulus here is also notably greater, due to the laying of thicker mortar beds. At the
same time there is not at San Tommaso the homogeneous selection of brick spolia and
regularity of coursing common to churches built in the city after 1100 (Avagnina,
Garibaldi and Salterini, 1976-7. San Tommaso finds a stronger parallel in the brick
phases at San Lorenzo in Dámaso, recently dated to the pontificate of John XIX,
1024-33 (Pentiricci, 1997)). The brick filling of San Tommaso's windows seems
more typical of the later period, and the contemporary brick 'caprice' finds a parallel
in those of the gatehouse of San Clemente, built around 1 125 (Barclay Lloyd, 1989:
122). The windows at San Tommaso have similar broad proportions to those of the
early Middle Ages. In short, in its masonry type, San Tommaso in Formis forms
something of a 'missing link' between the well-documented churches of the ninth and
the twelfth centuries, and such a dating is also entirely plausible on the basis of the
documentary evidence.

DISAPPEARED NEW-BUILT CHURCHES

Santa Maria Domine Rose

Santa Maria Domine Rose was also known as Santa Maria in Castro Aureo after its
location in a fortified zone which grew up near the Crypta Balbi in the ninth or tenth
century (Manacorda, Marazzi and Zanini, 1994: 638ff.). It was founded by four
aristocrats at the time of Pope John VIII (872-82), who are named in a much later
bull of Celestine III as Gratian, Gregory, Rosa and Imilla; shortly after, during

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 209

the reign of Hadrian III, one Paul nobilissimus vir don


(Manacorda et al., 1994: 639). After various late medieva
was entirely reconstructed in the sixteenth century and
Caterina dei Funari. The excavations in the adjacent Crypta
fragments of painted plaster and marble choir screens broad
Middle Ages (Manacorda, 1985: 33, 599ff.). One of the pl
fixed to the wall in the next-door Palazzo Mattei.

Santa Maria in Via Lata

Krautheimer has outlined the well-known phases of this ancient church, dat
construction of the first actual basilica to the pontificate of Leo IX, in 1049
III, 72-81). He ignored a sixteenth-century copy of a manuscript once
Maria's archive, which states that the first church was built above the unde
diaconia by the secundicerius Theophylact and his wife Theodora during the
Sergius III (904-11): 'et accedentes ad summum pontifican de edificanda ecclesia
habuerunt, quam edificaverunt, casalibus et possessionibus dotaverunt, cruce, calcibus etpa
multis ornaverunt. Sanctus vero Sergius papa ipsam consecravit, et in altari posuit c
beati martiris Agapiti et multorum sanctorum reliquias' (Fedele, 1912: 1,061-2)
believed the text to derive from an original of the twelfth century, and accep
claim in broad terms (1912: 1,060, n. 3). However, due to a seventeenth-
report of the discovery and destruction of a fresco from the underground o
said to represent the erection of the upper church, he imagined the interve
have concerned only the subterranean building, on the basis that the f
would have reflected works carried out in the building in which it was
(1912: 1,065, n. 1).
The evidence for assigning the first upper church to 1049 comes f
inscription discovered under the main altar when the present structure was
in 1491, which recorded the deposition of relics (including those of Saint Ag
by Leo IX. Cavazzi reasoned that this had to represent the consecration, and
the new building, of the church (Cavazzi, 1908: 81). The only remains of the
phase are the foundations, formed from huge reused tufa blocks (Sjoquist, 1
76, fig. 23). Krautheimer himself highlighted the fact that this is a techniqu
commonly tied to the ninth than the eleventh century (CBCR III, 80). Furth
we know from the Liber Pontificalis that the original diaconia oratory was a
underground by the ninth century, and was damaged by flood waters in 844
and 860 (CIV, 22; CVI, 23; CVII, 15). A rebuilding at a higher level w
therefore have been more likely at the time of Sergius III, rather than 200 yea
If we are to accept Fedele's (perhaps twelfth-century) text, we should pr
explicit statement that Theophylact and Theodora built the upper church ('p
timus edificare sibi ecclesiam supra oratorium" - Fedele, 1912: 1,061), to the
seventeenth-century description of a vanished fresco suggesting that th
church was meant. The first upper church had a reversed orientation with r
to that of the present structure, with its apse bordering the Via del Corso (CB
75). If we assume that the surviving foundations represent its external w
ground space would have covered an area not less than 21 m by 15.0 m (C
80, fig. 72).

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2 1 0 ROBERT CO ATES-STEPHENS

San Pietro in Horrea, Santa Maria in Monasterio, San Ciríaco in Via Lata,
San Cosimato

This group of monasteries, founded as a result of Alberic's policy, would p


have had new-built churches attached. San Pietro was established within ancient
horrea at the foot of the Aventine by Alberic's associate Baldwin in 964 (Hamilton,
1962: 58). It had disappeared by the thirteenth century, leaving no traces or
descriptions except for some vague references in property documents (Armellini,
1942: 748; Huelsen, 1927: 416-17). The complex included a monk's cella, and was
bounded by a paries antiquus maior. The church is not described; we thus have no way
of knowing to what extent it was a new structure, or how much of the Roman ruins
were reused.
The foundation of Santa Maria in Monasterio by Alberic's cousin Marozia and
her son in 954 has been proved by Hamilton (1962: 54). Again, no descriptions of the
monastery church survive; we know only that it was situated in front of the atrium of
San Pietro in Vincoli and completely demolished by Clement VII after the sack of
Rome (Lanciani, 1892: 23). Lanciani located the building on, or amidst the ruins of,
the Secretarium Tellurense, whence came the inscription of an edict of 363 seen in
the church by T. Balbino in 1465 (Lanciani, 1892: 23).
The ruinous buildings of the monastery of San Ciríaco, also founded by
Alberic's cousins, perhaps in their own house, were demolished in 1512. A plan
from the archive of Santa Maria in Via Lata, drawn after the redevelopment of the
site in 1661, gives the location of the church of San Ciríaco in the present Piazza del
Collegio Romano (Cavazzi, 1908: 246). Nothing is known of the form of the church,
except that in 1454 it contained a minor altar to Saint Donatus (Cavazzi, 1908: 255).
The ruined campanile observed by Bruzio in the courtyard of the Palazzo Pamphilij
would presumably have belonged to the monastery's neighbouring oratory of San
Nicola, judging from the 1661 plan. This oratory's construction should be assigned to
the original foundation date of the monastery: the double dedication is recorded
already in a document of 972, and Bruzio reported an ancient tradition assigning the
translation of a tooth of Saint Nicholas from Constantinople to the late tenth century
(Cavazzi, 1908: 252, 268).
San Cosimato was built by Alberic's chief adviser Benedict Campanius on his
own estate between 936 and 949 (Hamilton, 1962: 55). The surviving church on the
site is an entirely new structure of Sixtus IV. An inscription inside Sixtus's church
records the enlargement and consecration of the original building in 1069: 'Praesul
Alexander . . . domus huius hanc ternis aucta(m) sacravit sedibus aula' (Caraffa and Lotti,
1971: 32). The surviving Romanesque cloister, campanile and protyron, may point to
a further reconstruction of the original church, perhaps in the thirteenth century.
In 1892, monastery buildings in the area between the end wall of Sixtus's
church and the second, fifteenth-century cloister were partly demolished for the
construction of storerooms for a new hospital (Gatti, 1892: 315-16; Fig. 17, 'A'). The
sparsely-documented excavations19 uncovered a mosaic pavement 1.55 m beneath

19 Apart from two pages in NSA, the only record of the excavations is a folder of correspondence
between the director of the Congregazione di Carità di Roma and representatives of the Ministero della
Istruzione Pubblica, now in the Archivio Centrale dello Stato, II versamento, 2 serie, busta 402.

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 2 1 1

Fig. 17. San Cosimato: plan showing the position of the demolished, m
'A') and the new church of Sixtus IV (marked 'Chiesa?). (Rome, Archivio

the modern floor, which, together with the apse shown on


earlier church was situated here - that is, behind Sixtu
marble plutei of a type normally dated to the eighth or nin
during the works, both in the pavement of Sixtus's church,
they are currently displayed in the adjoining, medieva
destroyed during these works, but the end walls survive, di
spolia brickwork of the same type as the adjacent campanile
was arbitrarily dated in a report from the time (see note 19)
century, should be assigned to the first church. The level at w
above that of the Roman phases, shows that it must cons
Gatti's description could in no way fit a late medieval type:

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2 1 2 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

parecchi quadri, di diverso disegno: in uno è figurata una


pesce, in un terzo, due aquile ad ali aperte e poste di fronte,
e triangoli' (Gatti, 1892: 315). The pavement migh
specifically for Benedict's church, or else be a part
structure, adapted for use as the original monaster
building covered the shaded area in Figure 17, it wo
by 11.0 m.

Santa Maria cella Farfae, San Benedetto di Thermis, San Salvatore in


Thermis

Monks fleeing the sack of Farfa in 898 settled in Rome, and by 998 posses
complex oicellae and three churches within the precinct of the Baths of Nero-Se
'duas aecclesias sanctae Mariae et sancii benedicti, quae sunt aedificatae in thermis alexand
cum . . . oratorio salvatoris" (Lori Sanfilippo, 1980: 14; Regesto di Farfa III, 137
document cited concerns a dispute with the priests of Sant'Eustachio ove
ownership of the churches, during which the abbot, Hugo, swears that they h
been the property of Farfa for 40 years. Until 1011, the Crescentii family wer
proprietors of San Benedetto and San Salvatore: in that year Stefania and
husband Orso donated their share in the buildings to the monastery {Regesto di
IV, 47-8). Nothing is known of the original form of Santa Maria, which occ
the site of the present San Luigi dei Francesi. It was destroyed at the time of
IV, and so does not appear in any of the later Renaissance plans of Rome (Huels
1927: 327); as the most important of Farfa's possessions in the city we may at
assume that it was the largest of the three churches. San Benedetto was rebuilt
early seventeenth century as the Oratory of the Notaries, perhaps at a site sligh
the north in the modern Corso del Rinascimento (Fiore Cavaliere, 1978: 13
The original building appears in the 1551 plan of Bufalini and in Magi's 1625 bi
eye view as a small, single-naved hall (Fig. 18).
San Salvatore in Thermis survived, enclosed within the Palazzo Madama, un
the early years of this century, when it was demolished during works to enlarg
seat of the Italian Senate. L. Morganti produced a plan and brief description of
building just before its destruction, in 1907 (Fiore Cavaliere, 1978: 142-4; Fi
From these documents we learn that the original oratory was a single-naved, a
hall measuring around 8.0 m by 5.0 m. At an indeterminate date, the oratory w
doubled in width and two small square chapels were added in front, one on eac
of the central entrance, which opened onto the modern Via del Salvatore
masonry is not described, but two photographs taken of the fresco-covered in
walls of the church would appear to show traces of Roman brickwork and one
filled-in with opus vittatum (Fiore Cavaliere, 1978: figs 22-3). During the build
destruction, the brick pavement which sustained the suspensurae of the Ba
Severus was discovered, 5.0 m beneath the floor of the church (Gatti, 1907
From Ghini's plan of the Baths, it would seem that the original oratory o
Salvatore was inserted within the upper part of one of the Roman halls, and the
probably reused standing remains of its structure (Ghini, 1988: fig. 3).

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 213

Fig. 1 8. Drawing showing San Benedetto di Thermis from G. Magi's p


Frutaz, 1962: tav. 314)

San Teodoro, Santi Benedetto e Scolastica


Also from property documents, in this case from Subiaco, we learn of two private
churches situated within courtyard houses near Porta Maggiore. San Teodoro is first
mentioned in a donation of the primicerius Sergius and his wife Agatha to the
monastery in 924. It is an 'oratoriurrí situated within their property, just inside the
west side of the gate (Lori Sanfilippo, 1980: 28). After changing hands again the
whole complex was converted to a monastery in 952, and is still referred to as vocabulo
Soneto Theodoro in a twelfth-century list of Subiaco's possessions (Lori Sanfilippo,
1980: 28). When the Via Eleniana arches were opened in the Aurelianic Walls in
1955, amongst the material excavated was a disparate collection of marble capitals
(Marchetti-Longhi, 1955: 322). Little but their location, inside the west side of the
gate, would suggest a connection with San Teodoro.
Santi Benedetto e Scolastica appears in the documents in almost identical
circumstances. First mentioned as an 'ecclesia' within a large house owned by John,
Duke of Albano in 973, it was converted to a monastery by 977 (Lori Sanfilippo,
1980: 32). Its precise position was 'ad macellum non longe ab eccl. S. Andree et Sancii Viti\
that is, roughly in the position of the present Piazza Vittorio. If the remains came to

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2 1 4 ROBERT CO ATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 19. Plan of the complex of San Salvatore in Thermis by L. M


1907. (Rome, Palazzo del Senato)

light during the excavations of the late nineteent


recognized.

San Bartolomeo all'Isola

San Bartolomeo all'Isola was built by the emperor Otto III in 977 on lan
belonged to the monastery of Sant'Alessio (Hamilton, 1965: 294). The
survives today as a baroque remodelling of an apparently late mediev
(Avagnina, Garibaldi and Salterini, 1976-7: 181ff.). The surviving mar
alabaster spolia columns and bases, however, may be from the emperor
foundation. The present crypt is generally believed to be a survival of Otto

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 215

which, on the basis of the decorative eagle-capitals at the c


In later enlargements the intercolumniations have been
original masonry appears to be the vault itself. Far from con
molto regolari (Avagnina, Garibaldi and Salterini, 1976-
well-mixed concrete with coursed brick-fragment aggr
material, together with the vault's extreme shallowne
Roman concrete - in fact the podium of the Temple of
on the site of Otto's church. The crypt would then have be
mass, as happened at the crypt of Santa Maria in Cosme
chamber at San Basilio (see below), and the columns inser
San Trifone

Situated near the river in the northern Campus Martius, the church was built by
judge Crescentius in 1006 on his own land (Huls, 1976: 336-7). Demolished in
it appears in various drawings by Renaissance cartographers. Strozzi depicted it
standard, late medieval building with three aisles, a narthex and a campani
other views show a single-naved hall (Fig. 7; Frutaz, 1962: tav. 159, 167-8,
248). Ugonio confirmed the latter view, and added that the church contain
sunken confessio for the saint's relics (1588: 32).

Santo Stefano degli Ungari


Santo Stefano degli Ungari was the church of the monastery of Santo Ste
Minore at Saint Peter's, founded by Pope Stephen II and destroyed in 1776 {
Pontificalis XCIV, 40; Banfi, 1952: 38). Various sources attest a great enrichment
the monastery by King Stephen of Hungary in 1007 (Banfi, 1952: 38). A 1058 bu
Benedict X confirms the right of Hungarian pilgrims to be buried at the monaste
adding: 'cuius ecclesiam Stephanus rex Hungarorum construxit (Schiaparelli, 1901:48
Banfi gave a sixteenth-century plan which must represent King Stephen's churc
had the form of a small aisled basilica with five columns on each side, the w
measuring around 15.0m by 11.0m (Fig. 20; Banfi, 1952: 31).

CHURCHES CONVERTED FROM ANCIENT STRUCTURES

After Pope Stephen IPs conversion of the mausoleum of Honorius and T


into the church of Santa Petronella in the 750s, a very different attitude
prevailed towards the founding of churches on the site of ancient publi
From Paul I's San Dionisio to Leo IV's Santa Maria Nova, the common
to demolish the older monument and begin entirely new work. However
ninth century the tendency to reuse entire ancient structures for chur
mences. One reason for this must obviously be economic, since there can
that the process of conversion is far cheaper than erecting a new buildin
known that the papacy was greatly enriched during the late eight
centuries, when the practice of demolition for new work was comm
straitened economic circumstances coincide with the periods of conversion
the prestige and display of power which were inherent in the use of an a
building would have been precisely what the rising nobility of the tenth

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216 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Fig. 20. Sixteenth-century plan of the church of Santo Stefa

determined to establish for itself in our second d


constrained through economic circumstances to ch
modest, structure, or else converting a far larger a

Santa Maria de Secundicerio

Santa Maria de Secundicerio, the converted Temple of Portunus, represen


first use of a former temple by a private founder. Two inscriptions, known on
now-lost copies made in the sixteenth century, describe works undertaken
building by the judge Stephen during the reign of John VIII (Muñoz, 1925: 12
first (fragmentary) inscription states that Stephen converted ('purgavi?) the
and the second that he adorned the building, dedicated to the Virgin, with fr
The identification of the surviving temple/church as Santa Maria de Secundic
listed in the area in late medieval catalogues, has been convincingly demonstr
Osborne (1988: 21 1-12), who noted that there was indeed a secundicerius
Stephen at the time of John VIII who must surely be the founder referred t
inscriptions.

20 Muñoz's claim, followed by many scholars (Lafontaine, 1959: 12; Trimarchi, 1978: 654;
Melucco Vaccaro, 1974: 225; Adam, 1994: 38), that the temple had already been converted to a church
by Stephen's time, rests on the unexplained assertion that the first inscription is later than the second,
and untrustworthy. Evidence from other sources would appear to confirm the first inscription's
veracity: the church is not known from any text prior to the time of John VIII (not even the Einsiedeln
List, which contains two itineraries which passed right by it - Adam, 1994: 37); prior to the fresco-
painting, the building had been adapted for use as a two-storey secular structure (testified by beam-
holes, covered by the paintings - Adam, 1994: 37); and Stephen's surviving frescos represent the
earliest post-classical decoration (Lafontaine, 1959: 13). Marchetti-Longhi (1926: 102) believed that
the second inscription alone was enough to assign the conversion, as well as the frescos, to Stephen.

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 2 1 7

The conversion seems to have involved very little buildin


added in the end wall of the cella and five small square win
two in each side and one above the apse; the pronaos may al
this time (Muñoz, 1925: 33, 38, 42) . Apart from the decoration
with frescos, a marble liturgical enclosure was installed. Tra
decorative works, which had been obscured by successi
discovered during the 'isolamento' of the 1920s: marble plut
frames are displayed inside the temple today, together w
During the demolition of surrounding structures, a wall con
tufa blocks was uncovered, running parallel to the east side o
separated from the temple by a repaved basalt street, wh
Roman levels (Muñoz, 1925: 28). Such distinctive eighth-/
which was also found beneath the reconstructed temple steps
work involved some replanning of the surrounding area.21

San Basilio

The monastery is first referred to in a 955 bull of Agapitus II confirm


properties of San Silvestro in Capite (Patrologia Latina CXXXIII, 919). Th
evidence for a substantially earlier foundation, and Hamilton's theory t
Basilio's origins are to be sought in the wave of monastic reform and embel
inspired by Alberic II from 932-54 is the only convincing solution so far ad
The monastery is documented throughout the Middle Ages and after,
buildings were demolished by Corrado Ricci in the 1920s during the exca
the Forum of Augustus (Ricci, 1926-7; 1930). No attempt was made to re
medieval structures in any detail; a recent re-examination of Ricci's sparse a
material has clarified the earliest architectural phases of the monastery (Me
and Santangeli Valenzani, 1996: 81-91). It seems that the entire comple
situated on the podium of the Temple of Mars Ultor, with the pronaos occu
large vaulted hall (c. 15.0 m by 13.0 m), perhaps the monastery refectory. A
to the same reconstruction, the original oratory was situated at the bac
temple cella, in precisely the position of the demolished, late medieval chur
Basilio, which rose from a level 6.0 m above the Augustan pavement. Still pr
at the Augustan level is an incised Greek cross, presumably marking the nave
the tenth-century San Basilio: this oratory would have measured c. 15.0 m b
The only surviving traces of the complex are a small chamber quarried o
the temple podium beneath the north stylobate, and a large collection o

21 The facing of the upper part of the inside of the cella walls in spolia brick and the reb
the arch over the central doorway in travertine are both later than the original Republican co
phase (Adam, 1994: 25, 29), but there is no evidence that they belong to the ninth-century
(as Lissi Caronna and Priuli (1977: 314-16)). They may represent a later, Roman restorat
22 Hamilton, 1961: 10-11. San Basilio was bordered by two plots of land owned by
Hamilton suggested that the site, in the Forum of Augustus, was donated to the monastery by
himself. The idea that San Basilio was founded in the ninth century, perhaps by Greek mon
the Arab invasion of Sicily, is based solely on reused sculpture found at the site, broadly datab
period (Ricci, 1926-7: 6). The later ninth century was in fact a period of monastic decline
(Hamilton, 1962: 39).

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2 1 8 ROBERT CO ATES-STEPHENS

sculptural elements. The chamber, which has the


1 1 .7 m by 1 .47 m, was previously thought to repres
identified as a simple cellar; its precise date, howeve
Santangeli Valenzani, 1996: 91). The sculptural elem
corbels, a number of plutei fragments, and a cibo
since the excavations. All have been generically da
Ermini, 1974: 59-77). The corbels had been reused
late medieval church; the rest of the pieces had been
baroque restoration of the same church (Ricci, 193
conditions set out in note 8, above, it would be legitim
to the first church of San Basilio.

Santa Barbara dei Librai

Santa Barbara dei Librai is first referred to in an early eleventh-century insc


which survives within the present baroque building. It states that the church
properties are to be relinquished by the prefect Crescentius and his wife Rogat
given over to public use (Armellini, 1942: 499). The foundation of the oratory
the auditorium of the Theatre of Pompey by the Crescendi in around 100
likely - it is not known from any earlier source - but cannot be proved
present church contains nothing in its fabric which can be earlier than the reb
of 1634. Levels of known Roman and medieval buildings in the area would sug
that the tenth-century church would have risen from a level well below that of
and it is quite likely that traces remain beneath the present pavement.
fifteenth century the church was entered from a courtyard within the area
ancient scaena of the theatre, which in turn opened onto the Campo di
(Apollonj-Ghetti, 1982: 122).

Sant'Urbano alla Caffarella

An ambitious fresco cycle, which is dated by a painted inscription to 1011, test


the wholesale conversion of this ancient structure, believed to have been e
temple or mausoleum within the grounds of the Villa of Herodus Atticus, to a c
(the frescos in the crypt, however, are considerably earlier). The composition
the entrance depicts a husband and wife at the foot of the crucified Christ, and
represent the donors of the frescos. It was probably the similarity of the
mentioned in the inscription here - Bonizo - to Beño de Rapizia, the don
similar frescos at San Clemente, the Oratory of the Seven Sleepers, and
Salvatore de Militis which led Lanciani to claim that Sant'Urbano, too, w
work of these rich merchants (Lanciani, 1897: 335). No structural altera
relating to the building's conversion survive, nor, probably, were they ne
(the surviving blocking-in of the colonnaded portico in characteristic b
masonry was carried out in 1634 - Tommassetti, 1979: IV, 54).
San Lorenzo in Miranda

San Lorenzo in Miranda was set up as a monastery in the Temple of Antoninus


Faustina shortly before 1050 (Ferrari, 1957: 190). The surviving church was bui

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 219

Fig. 21. San Lorenzo in Miranda: detail from an anonymous fifteenth-c


showing the medieval complex situated within the Temple of Antoninu
1988: pl. 29)

Orazio Torriani in 1601-14. An anonymous drawing of the late fifteenth century


shows a small square building with a roof-mounted belfry, presumably the original
oratory, situated to the right of the pronaos (Fig. 21; Keavenay, 1988: pl. 29).
Nineteenth-century excavations found remains of structures described simply as
'medievali' to the left of the pronaos, and crude figurative engravings of saints
and inscriptions survived on the temple columns in 1898 (NSA 1876: 54; NBAC
1898:49-51).

SUBSTANTIAL REPAIR-WORK

San Giovanni in Laterano

Of the various references to church reconstructions in the tenth century, onl


rebuilding of the Lateran basilica by Sergius III would seem to amount to the s
of a grand projet.23 In 896 an earthquake caused the church to collapse fro
main altar to the fa9ade (Liber Pontificalis CXVI). It remained in ruins for at l
eight years: 'erat in dispertione quasi in thermis, virgultis et vepribus coopertá! (Descr
Lateranensis Ecclesiae, VZ III, 369 - incidentally giving an interesting picture o
general state of the Imperial baths at the time, c. 1073). The extent of Se
repairs, and how much of them survive in the present building, remains someth

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220 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

a mystery. The chief picture given by the Liber Po


complete collapse of the roof: 'Permansit enim ab eodem
tectorum curvatio eius ruinam ante ostenderent, per aliqu
memoriae sexti papae* (VZ III, 369). Subsequently,
were looted. The principal obstacle to a speed
transporting timber for the roof trusses, as w
(CBCR V, 11). The surviving accounts of Sergiu
furnishings which he replaced (inscriptions in Lib
n. 2). The phrases in the inscriptions describin
grandiose, but give little detail: 'Domnus Sergius t
positam afundamentis construxit\
The surviving fabric of the Lateran basilica, stu
50 years, gives little opportunity for a detailed app
up to now has concentrated on distinguishing the
century phase. Between these and the substantial r
the most notable additions seem to have been the t
the 1930s established that the original foundations
Krautheimer and Corbett, 1957). On the other han
time Borromini drew up plans for his campaig
therefore been assigned in all probability to the t
Perkins, 1954: 85, n. 68). There were, however, ma
Sergius III (CBCR V, Iff.). The only analysis of
transepts concluded that the north transept was 1
south, which was identified as dating from betwe
and Corbett, 1957: 85, 94). Obviously, the question
from scaffolding, and for this reason is not an
published photographs of surviving stretches of
Josi's figure 3 seems the only evidence for a d
between the brickwork of the fourth century and
patch in question, midway along the north ais
undulating spolia brickwork usually associated wit
and could therefore belong to the campaign of
attribution remains tenuous, to say the least. For
the work of 904- 1 1 consisted of re-roofing the na
the basilica.24

THE SECOND DARK AGE: CONCLUSIONS

With the exception of the Lateran basilica, we have now considered, i


detail, 22 churches. Of these, seventeen appear to have been new construct

23 Such work would include: Stephen V's reconstruction of Santi Apostoli (Liber Pontific
14), Anastasius Ill's restoration of Sant' Adriano (Mancini, 1966: 207), John XIFs creation
to San Tommaso in the south end of the portico of the Lateran basilica (CBCR V, 1), and
of columns to Sant'Eustachio by Alberic's widow Stefania in 991 (this, however, may have
a more substantial rebuilding campaign - CBCR I, 217-18).
The deesis composition of the current apse mosaic, even it a nineteenth-century copy,
derives from Sergius's restoration (Giordani, 1994: 297).

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 221

five conversions of ancient buildings.25 The most striking


during the tenth century is that not one example was the
even initiative. In fact, apart from San Bartolomeo and San
all were private ventures. Moreover, almost all were intend
monastic, use. In some ways we seem to have returned to th
where building expenditure became 'selfish' and private
houses were criticized in the law codes (Corpus, Novella
Concerning the typology of these new churches, several c
Firstly, the buildings are generally small, single-naved struc
external lighting, but rich interiors, usually with fresco-c
furnishings. One aspect of the latter which emerges again an
plutei, ciboria and altar fragments of a type commonly assig
centuries (as at Santa Maria in Aventino, San Sebastian
Maria Domine Rose, Santa Maria de Secundicerio and Sa
commentators often have tended to move the dating of the
period, even when there is sound evidence for a tenth-centur
22, n. 23) for San Cosimato; Ricci (1926-7: 6) for San Basilio
San Sebastiano) . This is most unsound. Another unsatisfact
such examples represent the reuse of older material. It seem
should in fact extend the usual dating of such sculptural st
century and assume that these furnishings were executed, lik
as a result of vigorous private patronage (cf. Gray's idea
employed and encouraged the same mason for her inscripti
de Secundicerio and Santa Sabina).26
Lastly, concerning the construction materials, we can sa
church which permits a reasonably detailed study is San
brick in a similar fashion to the churches of the ninth centu
the side walls of San Sebastiano, and, possibly, for Sergi
San Giovanni in Laterano. The reuse of tufa blocks is f
Sebastiano and the foundations of Santa Maria in Via
therefore, seem to have continued between the well-stu
medieval periods. The general adoption of the single-naved
25 In some cases it is not clear whether we are presented with new wo
of Severus group and San Pietro in Horrea might belong to the latter
Santa Barbara dei Librai and San Lorenzo in Miranda could be considered new-built structures. A
number of churches, which are mentioned for the first time in documents of the tenth century, have
been excluded from the discussion due to a complete lack of information regarding their earlies
architectural phases. These comprise chiefly those listed in the 955 and 962 property confirmations o
San Silvestro in Capite [Patrologia Latina CXXXIII: 916-28, 1,029-36): Sant' Andrea de Columna, a
the base of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, demolished by Sixtus V; San Nicola, possibly representin
the earliest phase of San Carlo al Corso; San Biagio, located on the river in the northern Campu
Martius; Sant'Ippolito, Sant' Anastasio and Santo Stefano in Campo, all somewhere near the Trev
fountain; and San Giovanni della Pigna, which still survives as an entirely baroque structure (a
references from Armellini (1942) and Huelsen (1927)).
In the most recent volumes of Corpus della scultura altomedievale VII there has in fact been a
tendency to move back the normal, eighth -/ninth-century dating of certain plutei, ciboria and transenna
to the tenth or eleventh centuries (Broccoli, 1981: 255-9; Melucco Vaccaro and Pároli, 1995: 95-8,
120-4).

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222 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

marble colonnades. Probable exceptions to this


Bartolomeo and Santo Stefano. If a basilica-form
would see here a return to such construction a
supposed early Christian revival of the twelfth c

OVERALL CONCLUSIONS

The total numbers of churches considered can be quantified in


buildings of the Carolingian period are included for a comparis
moment, the traditional cyclical chronological boundaries are still
The inclusions of some of the two dark ages' churches are, admittedly,
Sant'Euplo, Santi Simplicio, Faustino e Beatrice, San Pietro in Horrea and
of Severus churches may have been conversions; and very little is know
notably Santi Pietro e Paolo on the Via Ostiensis, and several of the tent
group. On the other hand, equally little is known of the five vanished C
churches, Santi Sergio e Bacco al Foro, Sant'Anastasio at the Tre Fo
Saturnino and San Romano - both at the Porta Salaria - and Santa Maria in
Sassia (as rebuilt by Leo IV). Excluded from the Carolingian group are poss
churches built by Hadrian I at the three Vatican diaconiae {Liber Pontificalis XCV
66): nothing is known of their form, and two may have been built originally for

640-772

San Venanzio Santa Maria in Cosmedin Santa Maria in Aventino


Sant'Euplo Santi Sergio e Bacco al Foro San Sebastiano al Palatino
San Pietro, Via Portuensis Sant'Anastasio, Tre Fontane San Tommaso in Formis
Santi Pietro e Paolo, Via Ostiensis San Peregrino Santa Maria Domine Rose
San Giorgio in Velabro Santi Nereo e Achilleo Santa Maria in Via Lata
Santi Simplicio, Faustino e Beatrice Santa Susanna San Pietro in Horrea
Sant' Andrea, Via Labicana Santo Stefano degli Abissini Santa Maria in Monasterio
Santa Maria in Sassia Santa Prassede San Ciríaco in Via Lata
Santa Maria in Aquiro Santa Cecilia San Cosimato
Santi Sergio e Bacco, Vatican Santa Maria in Domnica Santa Maria cella Farfae
Santi Marcellino e Pietro, Merulana San Marco San Benedetto di Thermis
Sant'Eusebio San Saturnino San Salvatore in Thermis
San Gregorio Nazianzeno San Giorgio in Velabro San Teodoro, Porta Maggiore
Sant'Angelo in Pescheria San Martino ai Monti Santi Benedetto e Scholastica
San Silvestro in Capite San Romano San Bartolomeo
Santa Maria Nova San Trifone
Santi Quattro Coronati Santo Stefano degli

TOTAL 15 18 17

SURVIVING 3 12 3

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 223

xenodochia of Stephen II [Liber Pontificalis XCIV, 4).27


We can see that, in terms of numbers at least, there is no
rebirth, of dark age and Renaissance. However, if we look at
buildings in their original phases, we immediately notic
nance of those of the Carolingian period. This, of cour
explaining the traditional picture of the architectural deve
introduction, since standing structures are bound to excite m
ones. But, admittedly, such a clear-cut division of surv
churches in the three periods must be more than a coincid
the quality of construction during the Carolingian age w
manship of the earlier and later periods. This would
impressive scale of the ninth-century churches, althoug
increase in the average size of buildings was more gradual t
imagined, with the trend beginning in the 730s rather tha
building materials visible in the surviving churches of the n
higher quality than those of the dark ages: one has only to c
brick and tufa pieces of Gregory Ill's San Crisogono crypt
bipedales and opus quadratum blocks of Leo Ill's Santi Nereo
Marble spolia, too, seem to have been available in huge am
century to the end of the ninth, both for structural u
architraves) and decorative purposes (paving, wall revetmen
ings) . Again, the increase started early in the eighth centu
basilicas of Gregory III and the lavishly-finished works of
the possible reuse of 'mask' soffits in the apse of Paul's San D
phrase 'diver sis marmorum . . . ornavi? in descriptions of Za
- Liber Pontificalis XCIII, 18; XCV, 5). Whilst the age o
ensured by the Frankish alliance must have allowed the pap
building programme, the wide-scale demolition of Roma
almost certainly started earlier, in the context of Rome's gr
Byzantium during the early eighth century (Noble, 1984
papally-conceded demolition considered above were at S
750, and Sant'Angelo in Pescheria, 755).
Whilst there was clearly an increase in funding durin
centuries which led to an improvement in the capabilities o
we have come a long way from the traditional account of e
in Rome, which saw Manichaean cycles of decadence and re
activity of the early Middle Ages. Furthermore, the 'ty
sought to classify apparently-contrasting architectural sty

27 Just as oratories constructed at the Lateran and Vatican by the pop


been excluded, so here are omitted a number of similar constructio
'Carolingian' popes (as, for example, Hadrian's rebuilding of Pope
Lateran, presumably with its oratory, and Leo Ill's Lateran oratories -
XCVIII, 66, 92). Again, the exclusion of Leo Ill's complete rebuilding of
the Vatican is balanced by the omission (from the second dark age)
Apostoli (both projects are described in similarly grandiose terms in the L
archaeological traces - XCVIII, 90; CXII, 14).

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224 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

then to define ages or cycles according to whichev


appeared to be dominant, can no longer hold for
both sides of the 'eastern-western' stylistic d
architecture of the period should prompt us to t
an age-old spiral of assimilation and fusion
dominance or defeat. Lastly, with regard to
construct of an entirely distinct ideological an
to the period of close Frankish involvement
unhelpful. Not only does the 'Carolingian R
either end into earlier and later building, but ev
begins markedly before the Franks became inv
Now that the framework for a complete cor
medieval Rome has been sketched, we can hope
archaeological investigation. It seems evident
provided through excavation at most of the sites
at Santa Maura, Santo Spirito in Sassia, Santa M
Pietro, Sant'Angelo in Pescheria, and Porta Mag
construction work currently underway in the city
not seem too unrealistic.
Robert Coates-Stephens

APPENDIX. BUILDING EXPRESSIONS IN THE LIBER PONTIFICALA

The Liber Pontificalis is the obvious point of departure for any survey of buil
medieval Rome. Considering this, it is surprising that a straightforward study h
made of the language of the text's building expressions.28 Here I propose t
buildings which can be well-dated by sources other than the Liber Pontifi
consider which expression is given for their construction or conversion in the Lib
This should then enable us to visualize better what such expressions meant when
or no evidence from any source other than the Liber Pontificalis. These 'other sou
inscriptions, texts and archaeological data. Obviously, our best results will
where there is a substantial amount of non-Liber Pontificalis information, pre
more than one of these sources.
Before giving the individual examples, I should state that the characteristic masonry of
late eighth-/early ninth-century buildings will here be considered as an independent
archaeological dating tool, to be used in this survey as a 'non-Liber Pontificalis' source.
Although it has often been dated precisely by this text, the masonry can in fact also be shown
to belong to this period using other means. It can be shown to be contemporary with in situ
inscriptions and mosaics of Leo III, Paschal I and Gregory IV at the churches of Santi Nereo
e Achilleo, Santa Cecilia, Santa Prassede, Santa Maria in Domnica and San Marco.29 It also

There are many scattered references to the interpretation of the terms in various studies of
individual monuments. The most cogent comments are those of Krautheimer, which will be considered
below. Geertman has given a summary of the terms used in the 'First version' of the Liber Pontificalis of
535 (1975: 184-9 lì.
29 The marble inscription of Paschal I at the San Zeno chapel of Santa Prassede, in particular, i
bonded into the building's masonry.

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 225

represents the earliest construction-phases of buildings whose in


situ, tell us they were founded in the late eighth and mid-ninth
Pescheria, the walls of Cencelle, and the Leonine Walls (whose
dently attested by a contemporary Frankish capitulary - Liber P
n. 46) . Finally, the excavation of the domusculta at Capracorum
ological evidence for dating this same masonry type to the late e
(most clearly by the stratigraphy of a subsidiary tufa building -
In Table 2, an asterisk (*) against a Liber Pontificalis term ind
cross ( + ) represents a substantial restoration, and a number
conversion of a pre-existing structure (all judged from the '
references for 'independent evidence' are given at the end of thi
Of the 3 1 examples given, we have two proven conversions, e
cases of new building (the discrepancy is caused by the fact that
Santa Prassede and Santa Maria in Domnica are said to be both restorations and new
buildings; the fact that the only independent evidence for both of the restorations of
Aurelianic Walls is the same masonry type means that we should consider only
intervention as 'proven'). For the conversions the simple term 'fecit' is used. Fo
restorations 'renovavit / restauravit / reparavit a noviter' and 'reedificavi? are used. Of the
of new building, we have three oratories, two palace buildings, two fortifications and six
churches. All oratories and palaces use the term 'fecit'. The fortifications use the
' construere' . Of the churches, those from the seventh century use the terms fecit a fundamen
fecit a solo'] thereafter 'construxit' or ' aedificavit' is used, with or without 'a fundamentis' or '
(the two works of Gregory IV are something of an exception: San Marco is 'a fundamentis
(= 'erexit'?); San Giorgio is 'a fundamentis compsit').
This is of great importance for our interpretation of all other Liber Pontificalis desc
tions of papal building works. From the early eighth century onwards, when such desc
tions become more detailed, with a varied vocabulary of what we might call 'building v
we can now accept 'construere' and 'aedificare' as new-building verbs. Problems arise wh
consider the generic faceré' . As noted, the verb is used for all work connected with orat
The three listed show by their archaeology that they were new constructions; however
possible that other less well researched oratories, which again are termed fecit ' in the
Pontificalis, were simply conversions of pre-existing buildings, or parts of buildings (s
Sant'Euplo, above). The same goes for palace buildings. When, in all biographies prior to
eighth century, faceré' is used to describe both the conversion and the construct
churches, we are again faced with uncertainties. Krautheimer was the first to observe th
the biography of Honorius I the simple fecit' was used for buildings known to be convers
(Sant' Adriano and Santa Lucia in Selci, not listed here for lack of independent te
evidence), whereas fecit a solo' was used for archaeologically-attested new construc
(CBCR IV, 33-4). This distinction holds good also for Santi Cosma e Damiano and S
Maria ad Martyres (conversions, therefore fecit') and San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (a
work, hence fecit a fundamentis') . Santi Apostoli is an exception due to its being constru
over two pontificates.
The subject of restoration is more difficult. The examples given all have in common
fact that they have left substantial physical traces - in other words, such restora
represented more than a simple painting or re-pointing job. All cases, as noted, use the te
'restauravit / renovavit / reparavit a noviter ¡ fundamentis' . Can we then assume that al
expressions in the (later) Liber Pontificalis denote large-scale works? The table's one excep
of restoration which has left no trace, is that of the rebuilding of the roof of Sant' Apollinar
Classe. This could be checked by the independent testimony of Agnellus of Ravenna, wh
described the project in great detail. What is interesting is that the Liber Pontificalis,

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226 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

TABLE 2. Independent evidence for church building an

Building and date

Santi Cosma e Dam


(526-30) century masonry of structure
Santi Apostoli Inscription of John III; archaeology * perfecit et dedicavit
(561-74)
San Lorenzo fuori le Mura Mosaic-inscription of Pelagius II; * fecit a fundamento
(579-90) archaeology
Santa Maria ad Martyres, i.e. Inscription of Boniface VIII
the Pantheon dedication to Boniface IV; second-
(608-15) century date of monument
Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura Mosaic-inscription of Honorius I; * fecit a so
(625-38) Notitia Ecclesiarum; masonry
San Pancrazio Inscription of Honorius I; Notitia * fecit a solo
(625-38) Ecclesiarum; masonry
San Ciríaco, Via Ostiense Masonry; stratigraphy * fecit a solo
(625-38)
Oratory of John VII, Saint Inscription and mosaics of John VII; * fecit
Peter's Grimaldi
(705-7)
Oratory of Gregory III, Saint Inscription * fecit
Peter's
(731-41)
San Silvestro in Capite Benedict of Soracte; inscriptions; * afundamentis noviter
(761) masonry construxit
Santa Maria in Cosmedin Masonry * afundamentis aedificans
(772-95) noviter reparavit
Santa Cornelia Masonry; stratigraphy * a solo edificavit
(772-95)
San Lorenzo in Lucina Masonry -{-noviter renovavit
(772-95)
Aurelianic Walls Masonry -f renovavit atque restaurava
(772-95)
Sant'Apollinare roof, Ravenna LPR + noviter acfirmiter
(795-816) restauravi
Santi Nereo e Achilleo Mon
(795-816) masonry construens
San Pellegrino Masonry * a novo construxit
(795-816)
Lateran triclinia Mosaic-inscriptions of Leo III; * fecit
(795-816) masonry
Santa Prassede Mosaic-inscription of Paschal I; * renovans construxerat
(817-24) masonry
Oratory of San Zeno Inscription and mosaics of Paschal I; * fecit
(817-24) masonry
Santa Maria in Domnica Mosaic-inscription of Paschal I; * afundamentis
(817-24) masonry aedificans renovavit
Santa Cecilia Mosaic-inscription of Paschal I; * novam construere
(817-24) masonry
San Marco Mosaic-inscription of Gregory IV; * afundamentis eiecit
(827-44) masonry

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DARK AGE ARCHITECTURE IN ROME 227

TABLE 2 [Continued)

San Martino ai Monti Inscriptions of Sergius II and Leo IV; * renovans construxerat
(844-7) masonry / a fundamentis perfecit
Santa Maria Nova Masonry * a fundamentis
(847-55) construxerat
Leonine Walls Inscriptions; Frankish capitulary; * constructa est
(847-55) masonry
Aurelianic Walls Masonry + renovare curavit/
(847 -55 ) restauran praecepit
Cencelle walls Inscription of Leo IV; masonry * fundare et construere
(847-55)
Santa Maria in Cosmedin Masonry * fecit
Papal Palace
(858-67)
San Giovanni in Laterano John the Deacon; inscriptions of +
(904-11) Sergius III

quite specific regarding its own description: it uses 'novit


time tells us that the project concerned only the roof
made regarding a complete rebuilding. Although our
is only a small percentage of the total, unchecked refe
of all those listed in the biographies of Hadrian I and
that, unless more detail is given regarding roofing (as
Hadrian's and Leo's restorations) or painting, the
fundamentis' can reliably be taken to signify a substan

References for 'Independent Evidence5


Santi Cosma e Damiano: CBCR. Santi Apostoli: CBCR; F
Lorenzo fuori le Mura: CBCR. Santa Maria ad Martyre
Mura: CBCR; VZ II, 79. San Pancrazio: CBCR; VZ II, 93. San Ciriaco: Formari, 1916-17.
Oratory of John VII: MECXII, 6a and b; L'Orange, 1969. Oratory of Gregory III: Liber Pontificalis
(Davis) II, 22, nn. 17-23. San Silvestro in Capite: Benedict of Soracte 27a; CBCR; Gray, 1948: 52.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin: CBCR. Santa Cornelia: Christie, 199 1 . San Lorenzo in Lucina: CBCR.
Aurelianic Walls: Coates-Stephens, 1995. Sant'Apollinare in Classe: LPR 168. Santi Nereo e
Achilleo: CBCR. Lateran triclinia: Lauer, 1911: 103ff. Santa Prassede and San Zeno: CBCR.
Santa Maria in Domnica: CBCR. Santa Cecilia: CBCR. San Marco: CBCR. San Giorgio in
Velabro: CBCR. San Martino ai Monti: CBCR. Leonine Walls: Gibson and Ward-Perkins, 1979;
1983. Cencelle Walls: Nardi, 1991. Santa Maria Nova: CBCR. Santa Maria in Cosmedin Papal
Palace: Giovenale, 1927: 406-19. San Giovanni in Laterano: CBCR; VZ III, 369-70.

Acknowledgements

This article was written in Rome with the financial support of a Study Abroad Studentship provided by
the Leverhulme Trust. My thanks are due to the Trust, and especially to the Secretary of the Research
Awards Advisory Committee, Jean Cater. I would also like to thank each of the following for their help
in sharing the results of their own research, in providing access to monuments, and in giving advice on
the texts: Franco Astolfi, Luigia Attilia, Gillian Clark, Lanfranco Cordischi, Lucos Cozza, Ugo
Falesiedi, Maria Pia Malvezzi, Laura Morgante, Giorgio Orioli, Antonella Parisi, Pier Luigi Porzio,
Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, and Bryan Ward-Perkins.

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228 ROBERT COATES-STEPHENS

Abbreviations

ACS = Archivio Centrale dello Stato; CBCR = Krautheimer


Krueger and Schoell, 1928; FUR = Forma Urbis Romae, see
Pontijìcalis, see Duchesne, 1886-92, Davis, 1989-95; LPR = L
Holder-Egger, 1878; LTUR = Lexicon Topographicum U
Monumenta epigraphica Christiana, see Silvagni (1943); NBAC
NSA = Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità', RAC = Rivista di Archeol
Balzani, 1879-1919; VZ = Valentini and Zucchetti (1940-5

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