Controlling the sacred past: Rome, Pius IX, and Christian Archaeology
Erenstoft, Jamie Beth
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It is the intention of this dissertation to provide an intellectual and ideological history of the discipline of Christian Archaeology at Rome in the nineteenth century. There is an academic division between Classical and Christian archaeological studies. This divide had its roots in the conflicting agendas of Classical and Christian scholarship that developed during the nineteenth century in Rome, and they, in turn, had their roots in the cultural and religious politics of that time. This dissertation focuses on the origin of the schism that developed between Classical and Christian archaeological studies through an examination of the ideologies and politics at play within the papacy of Pius IX (1846-1878) and their effect on contemporary scholarship. From the renaissance through the eighteenth century and even into the early part of the nineteenth century, there was a long tradition of interaction between Classical and Christian scholarship in Rome. The successive popes during these centuries were Classical humanists interested in exploiting and promoting the Classical heritage of the city of Rome. Pius IX, however, in the decades leading up to the 1870 unification of Italy, sought to endorse the archaeology of early Christianity in order to preserve the papacy's spiritual and temporal power. The promotion of Christian archaeology over more Classical interests under the authority of Pius IX can be divided into four categories: the renovation of Churches, the restoration and excavation of ancient monuments including the catacombs, the establishment of academic institutions and museums, and the publications concerning all of those activities. It is here that we can see the birth of the discipline of Christian archaeology and understand its separation from the Classical tradition.