Book Series The Florence Duomo Project, vol. 2

Archaeological Campaigns below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980

Franklin Toker

  • Pages: 536 p.
  • Size:220 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:591 b/w, 124 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-1-905375-52-3
  • Hardback
  • Available

Based on the excavations of 1965-1980, this second volume in the series provides an overview of the medieval art and architecture that was found below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery.


"In this volume, the particulars of medieval iconographic analysis weave into the intricacies of identifying Roman graffiti, appraising pottery or numismatic evidence, understanding architecture, even dating human remains (possibly those of Giotto). Stepping back to digest this material, as Toker has been able to do with such rigor, candor, insight, and sensitivity, we witness the way in which successful collaboration can produce spectacular results—results that together can, quite literally, alter the face of history."  (Felicity Harley-McGowan, in: CAA Reviews, February 2014)

"This is a blockbuster of a book but, unlike most works bearing that unlovely sobriquet, this is a work of supreme scholarship that illuminates a long-neglected account of a major historical episode." (Brian Tovey, in: The Art Newspaper, May 2014)

"Ce second volume de The Florence Duomo Project est assurément un ouvrage magistral, et il ne fait aucun doute que la série, à son achèvement, sera une nouvelle base pour toute étude sur le complexe cathédral. Plus encore, la quantité de données publiées, la méthode de l’auteur et ses conclusions éclairées renouvelleront sans aucun doute les études du bâti toscan et, plus généralement, l’histoire architecturale, sociopolitique et religieuse de la ville italienne, aux périodes médiévale et moderne." (Mathieu Beaud, dans: Bulletin du centre d'études médiévales d'Auxerre, 19.1, 2015)

“These two volumes represent a major part of a lifetime’s work (…)  in assembling a well-referenced and well-illustrated body of archaeological and architectural information, Toker has lived up to the expectations of the masters that he thanks in his generous introduction (…) As a result, these volumes will become a cornerstone in understanding the history of Florence.” (Richard Hodges, in Speculum, 91/4, 2016, p. 1171)

“To sum up, Toker and the numerous other scholars who have contributed to this volume provide an authoritative overview of, and compelling conclusion to, centuries of archaeological campaigns. This book will be a fundamental point of reference for researchers interested in the Florence Cathedral and, more generally, Roman to Renaissance Florence. Moreover, it sets a brilliant example for archaeologists and historians of art and architecture wishing to collaborate across disciplines to create successful diachronic analyses of important monuments and sites of long duration.” (Gabriele Castiglia, in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 75/4, December 2016)


Archaeological Campaigns below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980 presents the results of one of the major archaeological campaigns of our times: the decade-long excavation below Florence's cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore.

The book presents a cutaway vision of a great city that would be hard to match anywhere, exploring a site that was in use for 1500 years, from the founding of the Roman settlement of Florence to the burial there of Giotto and Brunelleschi. In terms of structures, the excavation uncovered a Roman house, an Early Christian basilica, a Carolingian crypt, and further rebuildings from the eleventh century and later. For artifacts, the findings constitute a virtual encyclopedia of ancient and medieval art in mosaics, frescoes, the grave of Florence's earliest documented saint, the first elaborate tomb of the Medici, and outstanding examples of Roman and medieval glass, metalwork, and ceramics. Forty-one specialists in material culture and archaeological science report on those finds in the book, and hundreds more illustrations are carried on the author's website,

But the findings from below the Florence Duomo are not limited to art history. The Roman house gives a glimpse of life on the Italian peninsula in the half-millennium between Emperor Augustus and the Ostrogoth king Theodoric. The construction of a large basilica with its rich mosaic floor marks the evident revival of a battered city: a turn of events entirely unexpected from the few other fragments of early Florentine history that survive. The later additions to the church of S. Reparata (as the early cathedral was titled by then) also constitute rare remains from the turbulent centuries that followed.

Archaeological Campaigns additionally caries the results of excavations at the Baptistery of Florence and digging to establish the construction history of S. Maria del Fiore. The excavation results for S. Reparata, S. Giovanni, and S. Maria del Fiore make a fundamental contribution to the history of a city that has itself contributed so much to western civilization.

Dr Franklin Toker joined the archaeological excavations of the Roman and early medieval buildings below the Florence Duomo in 1969, then directed the work through its conclusion in 1974. In 1973 and 1980 he supervised separate excavations that established the original project for the cathedral that stands today. Dr Toker has since 1980 taught urban history and the history of medieval and American art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He has lectured widely in North America, Europe, and in India, China, and Japan. At the University of Florence, Dr Toker was the first non-Italian called to teach the history of art within that ancient institution.