1.1 The nature of the project

Paolo Brocato and Nicola Terrenato

The University of Calabria and the University of Michigan have promoted the new work at S. Omobono with both research and heritage management aims. On the one hand, the site offers unique opportunities for understanding the evolution of one of the major cult places in the city of Rome, from the earliest phases of activity down to the creation of the Christian church. To date, no study has comprehensively considered the evidence recovered so far, which is scattered throughout a number of partial publications in Italian and, of course, in a massive amount of archival materials. On the other hand, the site poses extremely complex challenges in terms of its conservation and presentation to the public. In this area, the universities aim to provide further research data and planning that will support the management of the site by the city of Rome. In addition, the project also offers outstanding opportunities for experiential learning to the students of all levels that are taking part in the field and research activities.

The work began in 2009 with a review of the published and unpublished evidence and a preliminary analysis of the site from the stratigraphic point of view. The old excavation plans and other graphical and documentary material recovered in this phase are currently being checked and integrated. Similarly, the artefacts from previous excavations are being reorganised, cleaned and re-examined.

In the summers of 2010 and 2011, limited excavations were conducted in the north-west and south-east parts of the site, primarily by emptying previous archaeological trenches that had been backfilled to double-check on the archival excavation data. The collation of all the old and new data will require years of patient work, so that in this contribution only some very basic observations and conclusions can be presented.

In terms of the heritage-management aspect of the project, preparatory work is ongoing to open the site to the public, occasionally at first and, after the conclusion of the project, on a permanent basis. Old scaffolding and supports that impeded the view of the remains are progressively being dismantled. The stone architectural elements that were scattered over the entire area are being reanalysed and rearranged in a more logical way, again to facilitate the comprehension of the site by its visitors. Illustrative material has been posted around the perimeter of the site to start providing some basic information to visitors and passers-by. Furthermore, some urgent conservation work has been undertaken on the two altars, the floor of the western temple and some parts of the north stylobate.


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