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Critique to AA.VV., Les Premiers Monuments Chretiens de France. Vol. 2. Sud-ovest and Center, Paris, Ed. Picard, 1996

The new volume of the canon of the early christian monuments from France is so certainly an important event that it deserve to have pointed out. The share of the good names of the French archeology, which Adam, Fevrier, Duval, Guyon, Picard, Luce Pietri, Sauget and many other it still guarantees the validity of a plan that is highlighted for the rigor, the ability of synthesis and for the wish of give an aggregate vision that reconciles the study of the individual monument with the history and the topography of the territory in which it has inserted.
The work is an archeological inventory of the Christians places of cult from the beginnings up to the Carolingian age. The regions burrowed are the actual Aquitania, Auvergne, Centre, Limousin, Midi-Pyrénnées, Pays de la Loire, Poitou-Charente. We read in the introduction of Louis Marin that the publicized monuments, about 50, they are certainly few respect to the breadth of the territory in examination: from here the consideration of like, to front of searches often of vanguard and lavish of results as the historical ones, based on an affluence of documentary data, the Christian archeology in France (it be the excavation that the architectural or the epigraphical investigations) still slows down. Marin justly groans of important absences in the volume, like to Bourges example, but we with him recognize the validity of this invenctory also only like budget of the actual acquaintances.
The piano of work is, on the wake of La Topographie Chretienne des Cités de la Gaule, an example and a model of like to the inland of the schematic cage of a "canon" the data point out essential the use to know the monument and together highlight the contingent problems still open; the "canon" it becomes as not a simple list of objects but an essential tool of base for any type of search. At first a map with the denotation of the sites, then a historical and topographical introduction, then the card of the individual monument, in which they have compiled the voices concerning the localization, the historical sources, the history of the studies, the description of the monument, the sacred furniture and the decorative plant, the interpretation and, interesting and new voice that gives a touch of actuality to the search, his state of conservation. Photoes, consequences and clean plants equip the individual cards.
The reading of this interesting opera illustrates the state of actual acquaintance of the hypogeums, churches, sanctuaries, cloisters, fonts of the French regions in examination.
It's the occasion of see the almost definitive monuments from burrowed time in a synthesis, like the burial Basilica of St. Bertrand-de-Comminges (card of Guyon and Paillet), that takes office to the inland of an urban villa and that recent excavations allow to date to not before the 430-40.
Or it is the opportunity of know new interpretations, like that in his posthumous card Fevrier proposes for the Battistero of S. John the Baptist in Poitiers. This is a complex building, unique in his form, a rectangular room with polygonal apse and nartex, that it is come to install the inland of a populate district with productive fittings in life at least up to the half of the IV century, and that in past they are been deliberate see like rest of a "domus ecclesiae" or of a xenodochium. Fevrier reads with different eyes the monument and, on the base of varied considerations, lowers the dating to the VII century.
The reading of the volume furnishes besides the occasion for face buildings that present interesting problems, and still not resolved. It's the case for example of the Church of the SS. Gervasio and Protasio to Civaux (card of J.C. Papinot), that it presents the first sure attestation only in 862, like church and Merovingian cemetery, and that it is come to set, according to one interesting and distinctive scheme, to side of the cell of a Roman destroyed sanctuary but not busy from the new cult, and with a font that comes to have built on the other side of the cell. What did it prevents it do I use of the Roman structure?
From last it is finally the opportunity of give historic and monumental value to small places, like to example the Hermitage of St. Til to Brageac (card of G. Fournier), envoy in light in the 1984 after a message of clandestine excavations. Draws aside of a small rectangular built building poorly in local stones lodges in clay, with a floor in beat earth. It presented a staircase of access. The inside space had organized in extremely simple way, with a kind of seat on a side, and with a construable structure like altar on the other; to side of it a well.
The merciless and fatalist words that conclude the card of Fournier under the voice "state of conservation" damage finally completes concrete value to this awful work of the French Christian archaeology. The ruins of the hermitage have not been covered after the excavation and "la dégradation est rapide": the conservation of the rests of the past that they arrive at up to us withered across the correct archeological investigation but it has need finally of his edition and exploitation, also like single room card to the inland of a bulky canon.

Gianfranco De Rossi

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