Archeological frescoes from the Basilica of St. John Lateran

S.GiovLat scavi 013a

Conserved underground below St. John Lateran are the remains of ancient buildings, constructed long before the Christian basilica. During the first imperial age, a residence of high social rank was found here, in which it is still possible to admire its original wall paintings, mosaics and marbles. The dwelling was demolished in 193 AD when Septimius Severus decided to build the new barracks for the Equites Singulares, the cavalry unit selected as the emperor’s bodyguards. After the Battle at the Milvian Bridge (312 AD), Constantine abolished the Equites Singulares unit and had the basilica of the Savior built in the area. The restoration project includes the frescoes in many rooms of this ancient suburban villa. Some rooms are frescoed with elegant quadrants depicting scenes of domestic life, fantastic false architecture, fluttering figures of Satyrs, animals, and personifications of the wind. Some others show more damaged wall paintings, once in vivid colours as red, yellow and green. Most of these frescoes can be dated at the last phase of decoration of the residence in the late 2nd century A.D., although some walls of the villa date back to at least two centuries earlier. It is worth it to say that this residential complex is the subject of a larger research work on the history of the Lateran area, in cooperation with the Vatican Museums, Newcastle University (UK) and the Università degli Studi Firenze (IT).

S.GiovLat scavi 011c