S. Maria Antiqua (Rome)
- John Osborne
Situated in the Forum Romanum, at the foot of the Palatine Hill, S. Maria Antiqua is an early medieval church inserted into a pre-existing complex of classical buildings. It was excavated by Giacomo Boni in 1900. The original structure, dated by brick stamps to the late years of the emperor Domitian (reg 81–96 CE), comprised an atrium, a vaulted quadriporticus, and three chambers beyond. Its precise function remains uncertain, although it was presumably related to Domitian’s palace on the hill above, to which it was connected by a ramp. At some point, probably in the second half of the 6th century, the site was converted for use as a church. Columns were substituted for the four brick pilasters on the long sides of the quadriporticus, and an apse was cut into the end wall. A church with this dedication had been known from an early 8th-century reference in the ...