The presentation of archaeology in Florence, Italy

This is the fourth in a short series of posts which I wanted to write in the first half of this year but did not have the time to put together. In this post I wanted to talk about the presentation of archaeology that I noticed on a trip to Florence in April 2017. There are two things that I want to focus on; the Duomo Crypt, and the roads around the Bargello.

Mosaic floor from an early phase of the church under the Duomo in Florence (Copyright: Christopher Booth 2017)

Mosaic floor from an early phase of the church under the Duomo in Florence (Copyright: Christopher Booth 2017)

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore also known as the Duomo di Firenze, contains elements of all of the earlier phases of church building on that site from later Roman period through to the medieval church which immediately preceded the current cathedral. These are preserved in-situ in the crypt below the nave of the church and access to this area is included with entry to the church (the gift shop is also down there!). This is not simply an un-interpreted mess of walls and decorative flooring, there are simple to understand interpretive panels, but more excitingly for me there are archaeological plans, clearly scanned from the working documents produced during the excavation of these remains, These plans were highlighted to show the phasing and presented in such a way as to help the visitor understand what they are seeing. I was really happy to see the archaeological process being used so directly to aid in non-expert understanding of an archaeological site without being polished so that it is unrecognisable as an archaeological document,

Brass indications of archaeological sites pre-dating the current road layout in Florence (Copyright: Christopher Booth 2017)

Brass indications of archaeological sites pre-dating the current road layout in Florence (Copyright: Christopher Booth 2017)

On the streets near the Palazzo del Bargello there were bronze strips inlaid into the road surface that I didn't even notice on the first few times walking past. These subtle indications on the street and a subtle nearby information panel represent and explain that this marked the exact position of the old roman road watchtower that formed the edge of the city during the period of the Roman Empire. I found this to be a really good and subtle presentation of archaeology which doesn't intrude but is clear for those who want to pay attention.

These are only two examples amongst many but they made me start to pay more attention and I am excited to find more examples of archaeology out in the world!