Signature of a Magister identified in Santo Stefano Rotondo

During an inspection in the Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo, we photographed a (seemingly unpublished) inscription that was engraved on the footrest of the throne of Gregory the Great that reads: Magister Iohannis. This marble chair is certainly a reuse from antiquity and appears to be from the 2nd century. The uncertain nature of the letters of the signature are certainly due to the difficulty of carving with a hammer and chisel in the small space between the seat and footrest, but perhaps also due to the inexperience of the would-be Magister. This signature was perhaps added in the 13th century by the stone-cutter Iohannis, when asked to modify the chair by removing any armrests and backrest, which was typical of Roman Empire chairs.

Translation of an extract from Marmorari Magistri Romani di Dario Del Bufalo. Roma, L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2010.

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