Treasures Underfoot: Preserving Venice's Church Floor Artifacts

YEAR: 2012 | TERM: B


Church Floors


Danielle Catherine Dechaine; Meghan D. Hennessey; Jeffrey Orszulak; Kevin Alexander Rullmann


John F. Zeugner


Soprintendenza all'Archeologia,UNESCO (UVO-ROSTE)

With one hundred forty four churches spread throughout Venice and its lagoon, churches are an important aspect of Venetian culture. While many of these churches have been closed or repurposed, 88 churches are still active for tourist visits, services, and other religious activities. Many of these churches were established as early as the tenth century and have since undergone several reconstructions and renovations. Each reconstruction dramatically changed the architectural style of the church’s exterior, while the interior often maintained some of the original features. In many churches, the floors have remained consistent and many contain artifacts such as tombs and plaques. While these artifacts are made of stone, years of wearing from parishioners walking over the artifacts combined with flooding as a result of acqua alta, have worn down many of the artifacts’ inscriptions and designs. Since 1999, Worcester Polytechnic Institute has cataloged and assessed the condition of the church floor artifacts in Venice and its Lagoon. This project consolidated all past data and artifact assessments to create a ranked damage score list as well as a database of all churches and church floor artifacts on Venipedia. This database can be easily modified to include updated information about a church or artifact as the conditions and city of Venice are constantly evolving