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Architectural reuse


In all of the UNESCO site buildings, the Longobards made abundant use of older – especially Roman – stone architectural and decorative elements, albeit in various ways and to varying degrees. They had at their disposal a large quantity and variety of worked stone that could easily be recovered from ruined buildings and cemeteries, readily available in the areas in which they settled.
In most cases the architectural components (capitals, column sections and bases, architrave fragments) were recycled in the same context and decorative role as the originals, respecting their function and integrating them harmoniously with newly-fabricated architectural and sculptural pieces – as may be seen in the church of San Salvatore, Brescia, the Campello “Temple” and the churches of San Salvatore in Spoleto and Santa Sofia in Benevento.
This respect for and emulation of antiquity, clearly in evidence in the UNESCO site monuments, confirms the Longobards’ admiration for the Classical culture to which they were heirs. They used, and at the same time also imitated, the forms and decorative designs of the Roman period, coordinating them in buildings which emanate an architectural and figurative lexicon grounded in Mediterranean tradition, but at the same time original and impressive.
In the Castelseprio castrum the Longobards reutilized the fortress building, which thus continued to function in the Early Middle Ages, while in the Cividale “Temple”, the presbytery floor was paved with salvaged marble slabs.