Constantine the Great (285-337) played a crucial role in mediating between the pagan, imperial past of the city of Rome, which he conquered in 312, and its future as a Christian capital. In this learned and highly readable book, Ross Holloway examines Constantine's remarkable building programme in Rome. Holloway begins by examining the Christian Church in the period before the Peace of 313, when Constantine and his co-emperor Licinius ended the persecution of the Christians. He then focuses on the structure, style, and significance of important monuments: the Arch of Constantine and the two great Christian basilicas, St. John's in the Lateran and St. Peter's, as well as the imperial mausoleum at Tor Pignatara. In a final chapter Holloway advances a new interpretation of the archaeology of the Tomb of St. Peter beneath the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica. The tomb, he concludes, was not the original resting place of the remains venerated as those of the Apostle but was created only in 251 by Pope Cornelius. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological evidence, he describes a cityscape that was at once Christian and pagan, mirroring the personality of its ruler.
R. Ross Holloway is Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Art at Brown University and the former director of Brown's Center for Old World Archaeology and Art. The author of many books, he is the recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America's highest award for lifetime achievement.