Colossal Ceiling from Time of Emperors Commodus & Septimus Severus

Inventory number: 9721

Inv 9721 LO RES

 

This monumental artifact was discovered in 1858 during the restoration of the Nave Clementia, a transept in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where it had been installed as a pavement stone. During the papacy of Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592-1605), a large expansion project was implemented in this apse of the Constantinian basilica in preparation for the holy year 1600. As was custom, marble was taken from Roman monuments in the Forum and used for the floors and walls. The back of the ancient ceiling, therefore, became part of the floor of the renovated transept of the Basilica. The pontifical coat of arms of Clement VIII, featuring a tiara, was engraved upon the stone specifically for the occasion and traces of it are still visible today. The coffers bear marks from ancient restorations and hold rosettes of different forms at their center. They are each framed by the same decorative sequence: astragal with beads and fusarole, ionic kyma, rows of serrations, and lesbio kyma. Based on the characteristics of the craftsmanship, this architectural fragment likely belonged to a public monument commissioned by the emperor datable to sometime between the second half of the 2nd Century A.D and the beginning of the 3rd Century A.D. This piece is expected to return on display in the Chiaramonti Gallery.