I dipinti altomedievali di Santa Maria Antiqua nel Foro Romano/The Early Medieval Paintings of Santa Maria Antiqua in the Roman Forum
The church of Santa Maria Antiqua on the north-western slopes of the Palatine was built by reusing the brick structures of a vast architectural complex dating to the period of the emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). The plan of the pre-existing building was perfectly suited to this new function. The original quadriporticus was turned into a nave and two aisles and the spacious back room became the presbytery; this was only completed with the apse, cut into the Roman wall, at a later point. Founded in the 6th century AD, the church was decorated with extensive mural cycles over a period of three centuries. Many of these wall paintings still survive (about 250 sqm) and represent unique evidence, in Rome and the world, for the development of early medieval and Byzantine art. Almost all of the paintings from this period which existed in the Byzantine Empire were destroyed during the 8th century Iconoclasm. In the 9th century Santa Maria Antiqua was abandoned and remained sealed under the rubble of the AD 847 earthquake for over 1000 years.