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Multidisciplinary approach to multilayer monumental sites studies: the case of the Quirinal Hill in Rome

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MuMoSiSt (Multidisciplinary approach to multilayer monumental sites studies: the case of the Quirinal Hill in Rome)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

Within the general issue of the multilayer monumental site studies, it has been always difficult to conduct individual research covering the entire time frame. Although it is desirable to apply multidisciplinary criteria, this often leads to modest results if the level of cooperation among different experts is not sufficiently deep, while on the other hand the required sectorial studies offer an excessively limited view. The main objective of MuMoSiSt was to discover a methodological approach that can bridge the gaps that are now often apparent between different sectorial studies and the too broad ones. MuMoSiSt developed a specific and interactive database that allows to share the data collected easily, giving information about the main historical phases of the selected site as well as a global assessment based on its most significant transformations. In accordance with these aims, the area of the ancient Temple of Serapis proved to be an excellent case study. It was also particularly suited to study a no longer existing ancient monument only by means of post-antique documents (and without any excavations or other direct analysis) in concordance with the focus of the Host Institution: the Census of Antique Work of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).
Regarding the selected case study, MuMoSiSt has surely achieved significant new knowledge about the history of the area, going considerably beyond the previous state of the art. The existing studies were almost entirely insufficient regarding the assessment of the actual state of the site throughout history. During the project, specific research was carried out in order to study the Temple's area during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age, with a specific attention to the Colonna estates, such as the so-called Palazzo dell'Olmo and Loggia dei Colonnesi, that partially occupied the ancient ruins of the eastern double stairway. A large number of unpublished documents primarily from the Colonna archives were collected, analysed and confronted with the coeval iconographic sources already present in the Census database. This analysis was implemented by means of a specific interpretation of archival and iconographic sources and relating them to more recent buildings in the area, on both the historical and constructive point of view, and especially to the re-modelling of Piazza del Quirinale with the interventions from the 17th to the 19th centuries. But the innovation of MuMoSiSt, as well as the improvement of the knowledge about the Temple of Serapis and its post-antique transformations, mainly consists of both the methodology applied and the strategy selected for the communication of the achieved goals. In fact, the different historiography sectors were investigated simultaneously, thus allowing the study of the area in all its complexity. This approach is addressed to the creation of a general methodology, able to involve and encourage cooperation between different kinds of scholars, to be applied in future larger studies dealing with multilayer monumental sites. Therefore, the definition of a tool able to facilitate multi-disciplinary research, is one of the most relevant goals achieved. The research covered the whole development period of the area by means of systematic data collection.
The analysis of all different temporal phases was fundamental for the implementation of a methodological strategy that can be useful for future projects with the additional involvement of different experts. The benefit of the MuMoSiSt database has become also evident during the formulation of an effective synthesis of the acquired scientific knowledge. Its configuration makes the corpus of the sources very easily accessible and at the same time allows to show whether a reconstructive choice is based on a specific document or a conjecture or represents an arbitrary choice. This approach was also very useful for the strategy of communication developed through new multimedia technologies, more adaptable for a wider public and addressed to a relevant archaeological-historical topic of the European cultural heritage still little known.
Parte del monte Quirinale. E. Dupérac: I vestigi dell'antichità di Roma..., Roma 1575, fol. 31.