University of Pittsburgh
February 8, 2005

Medieval Historians to Convene at Pitt to Discuss Excavation Results at Florence Cathedral


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—Scholars of medieval history from across the country will convene at the University of Pittsburgh Feb. 26 and March 19 to discuss the historical implications of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore excavation results. The two symposia will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. in Room 202 of Pitt's Frick Fine Arts Building, Schenley Drive, Oakland. The sessions are free and open to the public; no prior registration is needed. More information is available by contacting Pitt Professor of Art History Franklin Toker at 412-648-2419 or

Toker directed excavations under the Florence Cathedral and is preparing the final excavation report in four volumes, to be published beginning in 2007 by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto. Toker's excavations revealed 16 centuries of occupation of the site, from a Roman palace to the tomb of the Renaissance pioneer Filippo Brunelleschi. This was the cathedral in which the Italian poet Dante worshipped and also debated, since it was simultaneously the parliament hall of Florence. Toker has invited these medieval scholars to critique his findings and historical speculations, prior to assembling the final text.

Taking part in the February symposium are:

Ralph Mathisen, professor of classics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a leading American specialist in Late Antiquity, and

Thomas F. X. Noble, professor of history, director of the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame University, and a scholar on the medieval papacy.

Taking part in the March symposium are:

Thomas Head, professor of history at Hunter College and a leading American

specialist in hagiography and the cult of saints;

Patrick Geary, professor of medieval history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a scholar of medieval relics; and

John Howe, professor of history at Texas Tech University and a specialist in the eleventh-century church reform, during which the Florence Cathedral played a key role.

Toker is teaching a graduate and undergraduate honors seminar this term, titled "The Destroyed Cathedral of Early Medieval Florence: Text and Context."

The two symposia are being organized jointly with the members of that seminar, who are the hosts of the events. Funding is provided through the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh School of Arts and Sciences and Honors College.