In the past decades the role of subterranean spaces in public and private Roman architecture has been widely acknowledged and debated. Starting from the pioneering conference promoted by the Ecole Française de Rome in 1973 (Les cryptoportiques dans l'architecture romaine), a rich body of scholarship on individual buildings and sites has been subsequently published, and civil, private, religious and funerary underground structures have been carefully investigated. More recently, ground breaking projects such as the four volume series dedicated to subterranean architecture (F. Ghedini and G. Rosada, Quarta Dimensione, 1993-2003), have contributed to our understanding of the ancient use and perception of underground space, urban and landscape planning in Roman Italy.
This workshop seeks to examine the potentials and practical problems of underground archaeological research. The presence of later, often historically and artistically valuable, structures and paintings as well as multi-layered stratigraphy, environmental and soil conditions can affect the way archaeologists operate underground and represent a challenge to research and conservation in situ. Working underground can also present particular challenges with regard to safety, communication and equipment use. Nonetheless the latest improvements in non destructive analysis and GPR data acquisition have the potential to enhance researching in underground spaces. Collecting information can be done faster and more accurately now than ever before, with a significant improvement in the degree of detail achievable today.
This workshop thus brings together archaeologists, geophysicist, speleologists and conservators to foster debate on research methods and to discuss innovative and non invasive techniques applied to research, recording and conservation in subterranean environments in Rome and beyond.
The conference will also present the preliminary results of the Lateran research project, which is currently carried out by Newcastle University in collaboration with the Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità and CNR-ITABC.
Last updated: 08/06/2012