Rural churches and settlements in late-antique and Early Mediaeval Tuscany
|Published in:||Journal of Roman Archeology, 2018, v. 31|
The relationship between Roman villas and their re-use as ecclesiastical buildings in late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages has been much investigated in recent years. This topic is now integrated into the debate about the end of the villas and of rural settlements more generally. Since the bibliography is extensive, I shall highlight only the main interpretative and more recent studies. As is argued in a series of studies focusing on the Italian peninsula, Roman villas underwent structural, functional and spatial changes from the end of the 4th c. despite their continued use. The most striking modification is the erection of churches on rural settlements. The chronology and nature of this Christianisation of the countryside are still subject to debate. I will examine the best-known villas in the territory corresponding to northern Tuscany, paying close attention to those of the late-antique period. I will then proceed to an analysis of those villas where the foundation of churches can be identified during the transition from late antiquity to the Early Middle Ages.
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