Mora Collection ➔ MRA-ITA-Rom305

Collection Item

Sample ID:

Sample Type:
(Sub-Type: fragment)

1.6 cm L x 0.9 cm W x 2.1 cm H   (largest fragment)

5 g

Geographic Location:
Map and GPS DD Coordinates

Chiesa di Santa Maria Antiqua (Foro Romano)

Historical note about the site/monument:
Dating to the 5th century, the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua fell into obscurity and disuse after an earthquake of the 9th century buried much of the building. It was rediscovered in the early 20th century. One of the chief interests of the church lies in its frescoes, which span the period from the 6th to 9th centuries and run the gamut from Roman to Byzantine to Hellenistic. The subjects of the mural paintings are varied, and encompass biblical scenes like the Annunciation (with one such depiction from the 7th century and one from the 8th century) as well as icons of saints. Among the saints pictured are Agatha (in a fresco of the 7th-8th century), Barbara (7th century), Solomon (7th century), Agnes and Cecilia (9th century), and in a long mural painting, Clement and 10 other saints and Christian doctors. Although the frescoes of the church are not in a uniform state of preservation, enough have survived to suggest the rich decorative program of the church in its heyday in which not only its walls, but even its columns were adorned with paintings.

Further reading:
Amato, S. R., Bersani, D., Lottici, P. P., Pogliani, P., & Pelosi, C. (2017). A Multi‐Analytical Approach to the Study of the Mural Paintings in the Presbytery of Santa Maria Antiqua Al Foro Romano in Rome. Archaeometry59(6), 1050-1064.

Lidova, M. (2017). Maria Regina on the Palimpsest ‘Wall in S. Maria Antiqua in Rome: Historical Context and Imperial Connotations of the Early Byzantine Image“. ICONOGRAPHICA16, 9-25.

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, November 24). Santa Maria Antiqua. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Chronological period (sample):
5th century

Other info about sample provenance:
Old ID Reference: "Roma S. Maria Antiqua S. Barbara and S. Clemente" (hand written notes)

Photos/Documents (provenance):
The exterior of Santa Maria Antiqua (photo by Bocachete, / CC-BY-SA 1.0)

8th-century mural painting of the Crucifixion in Santa Maria Antiqua (, public domain)