Department of the History of Art and Architecture                                                         University of Pittsburgh

Spring Term 2005 (05-2)                                                                          Thursdays 8:30--10:50 a.m., Frick 104

Professor Franklin Toker                                        HA&A1911 CRNHONOR/40027; HA&A2105 CRN40033


Syllabus for


The Destroyed Cathedral of Early Medieval Florence: Text and Context




Week 1. (6 January): brief overview of the Florence Cathedral excavations. Medieval archaeology and its limitations.  The discredited ossuary of James the Brother of Jesus.  Seminar logistics; preparation for the February and March symposia.


Week 2. (13 January) What do we know about Roman Florence? Focus on the Florence Baptistery. read for this week: Franklin Toker: "A Baptistery below the Baptistery of Florence," The Art Bulletin 58 (June 1976):157-167. Highly recommended that you also read (but not for presentation): Franklin Toker: "Excavations Below the Cathedral of Florence, 1965-1974," Gesta 14/2 (1975):17--36 and ibid: "Amid Rubble and Myth: Excavating Beneath Florence's Cathedral," HUMANITIES 20/2 (March/April 1999):14--18.  [These three articles can be found in electronic format: see the note under "where to find the readings" below]


Week 3. (20 January) A Roman domus and its transformation into sacred space.  The widespread cult of a nonexistent saint. read for this week: Richard Krautheimer, "The Building Inscriptions and the Dates of Construction of Old St. Peter's: A Reconsideration," Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana 25 (1989): 1--23; also Franklin Toker, "Krautheimer Made Me Do It: Solving the Toughest Archaeological Problem of Medieval Florence," CAA lecture text, 1997. [reserve shelf only, not in electronic format]


Week 4. (27 January) Transformation into S. Reparata.  The church and its mosaic floor. read for this week: Joan R. Branham: "Sacred Space under Erasure in Ancient Synagogues and Early Churches," Art Bulletin 74 (Sept 1992):375-394. [electronic format]


Week 5. (3 February) To the year 1000: early medieval transformations of S. Reparata. read for this week: Donald Bullough, "Urban change in early medieval Italy--the example of Pavia," Papers of the British School at Rome 34 (1966):82-130. [not in electronic format]


Week 6. (10 February) First Romanesque transformations. Problem of chapel layout ("the Benedictine plan") and dedications. read for this week: Franklin Toker: "A Gap in the Liturgical History of Florence Cathedral, and a Byzantine Casket Rich Enough to Fill It," in Arte d'Occidente: Studi in Onore di Angiola Maria Romanini (Rome, Edizioni Sintesi Informazione, 1999) II:767--779; also Edson Armi: "Orders and Continuous Orders in Romanesque Architecture," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 34 (Oct 1975):173--188. [the first article not in electronic format; the second is]


Week 7. (17 February) Later Romanesque transformations, and the ritual life of the church and the city around it. read for this week: Franklin Toker: "On Holy Ground: Architecture and Liturgy in the Cathedral and in the Streets of Thirteenth-Century Florence," in T. Verdon and A. Innocenti, ed., Atti del VII Centenario del Duomo di Firenze (Florence, Edifir) 2:544--559. [not in electronic format]


Week 8. (24 February) [first symposium follows, weekend of 25/26/27]


Week 9. (3 March) two student papers


[Spring Break: no class on 10 March]


Week 10. (17 March)  [first symposium follows, weekend of 18/19/20]


Week 11. (24 March) two student papers


Week 12. (31 March) two student papers


Week 13. (7 April) two student papers


Week 15. (21 April) Final meeting: transformation into S. Maria del Fiore; the artistic identity of Arnolfo di Cambio expressed in the Cathedral and S. Croce.





The seminar format: this is an honors undergraduate and graduate seminar, so it dispenses with certain conventional trappings of undergraduate lecture courses, such as exams and textbooks, and the taking of attendance (attendance at every meeting is mandatory anyway, and we will be few enough that any absence will stand out).  It also dispenses with lectures.  We will instead be working very closely with the evidence in a series of stylistic time-zones: Roman, Late-Antique, Early Christian, Early Medieval, Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque, Late-Romanesque, and Gothic.


Meeting the instructor: my office is on the balcony of Frick Library reading room; our individual meeting hours are normally Friday mornings 9 to 11.  Telephone 412.648.2419; e-mail We will need to meet extensively as you begin your individual research work.


Student responsibilities: readings, summaries, and presenters: student responsibilities will depend somewhat on the dynamics of the seminar as we progress.  I do want every seminar member to read the ten short or reasonably short articles that are specific to the "core weeks" of the seminar. Each seminar member will sign up to be a "presenter" of a specific article as the seminar proceeds.  Each week, I also want one seminar member to briefly summarize the work of the preceding week.  We will need to remember each week to designate or self-designate who the two (sometimes three) presenters will be the next week.


Where to find the readings: our seminar reserve shelf in Frick Library will carry just a few article offprints, in part because you will be creating your own research bibliographies, and in part because the more general books on medieval architecture will be found in the reserves for my parallel course, HA&A0221, particularly a good general text, Robert Calkins's Medieval Architecture in Western Europe (New York, Oxford University Press, 1998). The articles listed above as "not in electronic format" are on our reserve shelf.  The articles that are listed in electronic format are found in hardcopy on the 0221 shelf, but also can be clicked open by going to the website for 0221: follow; click on "Medieval Architecture"; and find the readings at the end of the file.


Bibliography: this will be worked up with individual seminar members as you get into your individual research paths.  No one bibliography could possibly address all the myriad questions we are going to investigate here.


The emerging text on Florence Cathedral: as advertised in the prospectus for this seminar, I have a massive but incomplete text that forms an elephantine background to the work of this seminar.  That text is Excavations at Florence Cathedral: Mapping the Sacred Center of Florence from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, and you'll each be reading at least the relevant parts of it during the term. The text comprises four volumes:

I) On Holy Ground: Architecture and Liturgy in the Cathedral and Streets of Medieval Florence (interaction of architecture and liturgy)

II) Archaeological Campaigns at Florence Cathedral, 1965--1980: Structures and Artifacts (field archaeology)

III) S. Reparata: The Architectural History of the Cathedral of Florence in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (art history)

IV) When Stones Speak: The Florence Cathedral Excavation Results in the Light of History (history)


The February and March symposia: we will work with five outstanding medieval historians, who are coming to Pittsburgh to respond to those parts of my text and also to the research themes that you are developing. On the weekend of February 25/26/27 are coming:

--Prof. Ralph Mathisen (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), classicist and leading American specialist in Late Antiquity.

--Prof. Maureen Miller (U.C. Berkeley), who just recently succeeded the renowned Robert Brentano as Berkeley's main medievalist.  She is a specialist in physical setting of church administration around the Millennium.

--Prof. Thomas F.X. Noble (director of the Medieval Institute, Notre Dame University), specialist on the papacy [one of the many people I consulted in the formation of this group said of Noble's Republic of St. Peter that "all of us still riffle its pages daily"].

Then on the weekend of March 18/19/20 are coming:

--Prof. Thomas F. Head (Hunter College), far and away the leading American specialist in hagiography and the cult of saints.

--Prof. John MacDonald Howe (Texas Tech University), acknowledged specialist in the eleventh-century church reform, in which Florence Cathedral was a dominant power.

What this means for us is an astonishing chance to rub shoulders with these really eminent scholars--and fire away with questions.  But it entails a great deal of preparation, too.  I am leaving undetermined for the moment whether we will meet on 24 February and 17 March, the sessions that fall just before the two symposia.


Collective work: there will probably be a good deal of collective work during the term, particularly involving three vital elements on which we will all draw collectively.  These are:

--organizing the two symposia of invited scholars (see above).

--organizing the research files for Excavations at Florence Cathedral.  Right now they are physically organized but only in part recorded (this will become clearer when we meet alongside the files)

--editing the text of Excavations at Florence Cathedral (some part of this must be done in preparation for the scholars' symposia, but part could be done also as, or in lieu of, an individual research topic).


Individual research topics: this question also depends enormously on the dynamics of the seminar itself.  Here are some topics that could be shaped in various directions: seminar members should contact me so we can define the best possible "fit" between students and topics.


01)--Late-Antique Florence: what do we know, hypothesize on?  Research would ask about founding-patterns of Roman cities: where, when, what configurations?  What were the workings of the Roman city: distribution of monuments, etc.


02)--Passage from paganism to Christianity in Late Antiquity: the fate of the domus under S. Reparata: attempts to reconstruct it and its neighbors (question of domus types, spread, and function).  Is this the correct reading of the vita S. Ambrosii? are there parallels to it? (Lelia Ruggini already has several).


03)--Creation of S. Reparata I (Early Christian phase): this would involve a sequence of subfields.  What types of situations led to the establishment of Early Christian churches: a new building on a gravesite (St. Peter's), a new building within an Imperial property (St. John's Lateran), a new building using a domus ecclesia (cathedral of Aquileia, SS Giovanni e Paolo in Rome) etc.  Can we establish a typology of Early Christian churches?  (Might involve "double cathedrals," and the reasons for them; the Arian heresy, and its implications for architecture and urbanism; displacement of cathedral sites around town.)  Question of church finances in early Christianity (prominence of inscription to the deacon Marinianus at S. Reparata: was he spending his money, or that of the community?).  Might involve the Goth King Theodoric (fifth-sixth centuries; a potentially major figure in the building of the Cathedral of Florence.


04)--Layout and compartments of the Early Christian mosaic floor: proportion studies and possible liturgical convergence [two topics can be split or worked as two students together]. Would look at regional schools of mosaic floor decoration in churches.


05)--Hagiography: where does the cult of S. Reparata fit in the widest possible perspective.


06)--The "Carolingian" and "Ottonian" phases of S. Reparata: what do those two terms really mean in Italy, and what historical basis might they have for changes at S. Reparata? For example, the ring-crypt and the towers-flanking-apse configuration?  Question would involve the growth and impact of the cult of relics; the iconoclasic controversy; the development of the pilgrimage; the creation of the crypt in Rome and emulation in northern Carolingian architecture: types and spread, connections with northern Europe.


07)--Earliest Tuscan Romanesque, especially the eccentric early works in Florence, Arezzo, Pisa, Siena: how does S. Reparata fit with those? (Romano Silva interesting article involving bishops).


08)--Marquis Hugo, the ivory reliquary, the influence of Cluny and the "Benedictine" plan, eleventh-century church reform: how to judge all the factors merging into the eleventh-century church?  Is there a particular connotation to the "Benedictine" plan in Italy?


09)--Florence as an outpost of the Holy Roman Empire (especially tenth--eleventh centuries); degree of autonomy and centralization; involves political, religious, and leadership connections between Tuscany and Lower Lorraine in the eleventh century.


10)--Schools of Romanesque architecture in Italy and elsewhere in Europe: where does Tuscany fit?


11)--The last form of S. Reparata's crypt in 13th century: compare Anagni, Arezzo, others.


12)--Liturgy and architecture: translating, editing, critiquing Volume One: the texts of Mores & Ritus examined through the perspective of spatial analysis and accuracy of translations (urban processions could be part or apart from this)


13)--Urban processions (could be with preceding topic, or separate): what do they mean, how compare to others in Europe; where did they typically go, and when?


14)--Looking in a cultural or even sociological perspective at the reciprocal role of cathedral and city in Europe in early and later medieval Europe. What difference was there between the cathedral-city relationship in, say, fifth-century Milan, Cologne, and Trier and that same relationship in Carolingian times, or Romanesque, or Gothic?  Topic might examine parish organization, religious processions, the rise of mendicant-order churches, the challenge of secular buildings.


15)--Arnolfo di Cambio: his documents, his trail, his artistic identity


16)--Indexing the excavation journals


17)--Focus on the artifacts: could be a technical or even editorial expertise on how researchers currently use artifacts, or it could be an almost-philosophical approach to their meaning, especially curious ones like a supposed Anglo-Saxon coin or the Lowlands-manufactured gold buckles? What significance do we take from the modest but rare Longobard artifacts found?  A cyber-oriented person could take charge of organizing the artifacts into a database.