The Florence Duomo Project


On Holy Ground: Liturgy,
Architecture and Urbanism
in the Cathedral and the
Streets of Medieval Florence

Hardcover, 2009; 324 p., 52 ills.,
ISBN 9781905375516

Michael Shamansky Bookseller
Brepols Publishers


Archaeological Campaigns Below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980
(The Florence Duomo Project, 2)

London and Turnhout:
Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2012
Hardcover, 536 p.; 591 b/w and 54 color illustrations
Available: ISBN 978190537552

Michael Shamansky Bookseller
Brepols Publishers

The cathedral or Duomo of S. Maria del Fiore in Florence ranks with the Parthenon in Athens, the Pantheon in Rome, Istanbul's Hagia Sofia, Chartres cathedral, St. Peter's, the Eiffel Tower, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater as the most influential buildings of western architecture. Fitting to their status as modern masterpieces, the Eiffel Tower and Fallingwater were built on sites where nothing had stood before; but the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance masterpieces on the list all stand over predecessor structures that greatly influenced their shape and function. We are well informed about the predecessor structures for each key building except--until recently--the Florence Duomo. A basilica dedicated to St. Reparata supposedly lay in ruins below S. Maria del Fiore, and the adjoining Baptistery was allegedly reworked from a Roman temple to Mars, but without archaeological excavations or a detailed study of literary sources, little sense could be made of those traditions. That uncertainty changed with the Florence Duomo excavations of 1965-1980 and the ensuing analysis of its structures, artifacts, and surviving texts.

Forthcoming publication

Reconstructing the Cathedral
and Baptistery of Florence
in Late Antiquity and the
Middle Ages

ISBN 9781905375530
Publication scheduled for 2014

Forthcoming publication

When Stones Speak:
The Florence Cathedral
Excavation Results
in the Light of History

ISBN 9781905375547
Publication scheduled for 2016

The Florence Duomo Project is a study of everything that preceded, and still lies beneath, S. Maria del Fiore and its Baptistery. These four volumes interweave church liturgy, field archaeology, art history, and social and political history to give the Florence Duomo (and, in some cases, early medieval Florence itself) the context that until now it lacked.

The series opens with On Holy Ground: Liturgy, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Cathedral and the Streets of Medieval Florence, which gives a literary picture of S. Reparata in the centuries just before it was destroyed to make way for S. Maria del Fiore. The second volume, Archaeological Campaigns below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980, gives order to the virtual encyclopedia of medieval art and architecture found below both buildings: mosaics, frescoes, tomb sculptures, armor, ceramics, the extensive layouts of a Roman house and an Early Christian basilica and its Carolingian and Romanesque rebuildings. The third volume, Reconstructing the Cathedral and Baptistery of Florence in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, links the construction phases of S. Reparata and the Baptistery with the evolution of Early Christian and medieval architecture. The fourth volume, When Stones Speak: The Florence Duomo Excavations in the Light of History, shows how the excavation results modify or revise the social and political history of Florence between the eras of Augustus and Dante. The first of the four volumes appeared in 2009 and the second in 2012. The third volume is anticipated in 2014 and the fourth and last in 2016.

"Franklin Toker . . . reviews the early building history of one of the major Gothic monuments of Europe, and, on the basis of new evidence culled from exacavations carried out between 1965 and 1974, in part under the author's supervision . . . makes a significant contribution to our understanding of a key monument in the history of architecture."
--Porter Prize Citation from the College Art Association

The Florence Duomo Project is of interest to:

  • Linguists and Latinists, whether professional or amateur, who will find in Volume 1 an unparalleled opportunity to follow the evolution of classical Latin into a medieval idiom and Italian.

  • Liturgists and musicologists, who in the same volume will find the complete and annotated layout of a liturgical year rich in ceremony and song.

  • Roman, medieval, and Renaissance art historians and archaeologists, who in Volumes 2 and 3 will find a packed site, entirely unknown until now, that was in use from the founding of Florence in the first century BCE to the cutting of the tombslab of Renaissance pioneer Filippo Brunelleschi and of the Cinquecento marble floor that was laid over it.

  • Historians of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, who in all four volumes will be presented with the opportunity that comes once in a generation to follow a fundamental revision to the history of an important city and region, and an unprecedented case study for the whole of Europe.

  • Anyone who loves Florence and Italy, who will find in this series a cutaway vision of 1500 years into the heart of the city and country that forged modern western civilization.