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Guest speaker at the Border Archaeological Society's next meeting on Monday, September 3, is Professor Ian Haynes, of Newcastle University.
He has specialised in Roman archaeology for most of his career. His lecture is entitled The Archaeology of St John Lateran and the Transformation of Rome from Caesar to Constantine.
Latterly, Prof Haynes has been involved in a major research project on the Lateran Quarter of Rome. At the centre of the research area lies the Lateran Archbasilica, the Pope’s Cathedral, an extraordinarily important complex, known as the Caput et Mater (Head and Mother) of all churches of Western Christendom.
It was founded by Constantine on the site of one of two forts previously used to house the Imperial Horse Guard (the equites singulares).
Beneath the basilica that today’s visitors see lies an extensive labyrinth of excavated spaces (scavi), opened up from the 18th century onwards.
These contain parts not only of the earliest phases of the basilica and baptistry, and several important Late Antique 18th century Christian buildings, but also substantial parts of the Castra Nova of the equites singulares, a bath complex, market and shop buildings.
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Beneath all this lies the remains of a substantial palatial dwelling, which preserves many of its frescoes intact.
The results of the excavation of the Lateran has important implications for students of church architecture, soldiers in Rome under the high empire, and more generally of Roman topography, with a compelling visualisation of the Basilica in its original Constantinian form.
The archaeology around the Archbasilica is also of exceptional importance, and thanks to the considerable generosity of a major donor and the British School of Rome, the team has been able to expand its subterranean activities. Amongst other areas under exploration is the house believed to have been the childhood home of Marcus Aurelius.
Proceedings commence at 7.30pm, in the Parish Centre, The Parade, Berwick. The event is free to members, £2 for visitors.