Study and Laser Uncovering of Hypogean Early Christian Wall Painting of Roma's Catacombs of Santa Tecla and Domitilla
Two painted cubicles of the catacombs of Santa Tecla and Domitilla in Rome were analytically characterized and then restored by means of an overall application of laser ablation treatments. This is the first application of laser ablation in the conservation of wall paintings in hypogean environments in which the main cause of deterioration is calcareous precipitations associated with the karst phenomenon, which cemented carbonaceous and tuff microfragment deposits of the past. The alterations found in the two sites are representative of typical conservation problems encountered in the Early Christian paintings of Roman catacombs. This makes the present approach for unveiling and preserving such a unique cultural asset of general interest. Its application in the cubicle of Santa Tecla allowed the unveiling of the early icons of the Apostle Saints John, Paul, Andrew and Peter, while in that of Domitilla, expressive scenes from the New Testament were surprisingly recovered.