(Stadtarchäologie Wien, Austria)
Abstract: The church of St. Peter in the first district of Vienna is a baroque building with a well-known date of completion. On the contrary, it´s nowadays nearly thoroughly vanished predecessor first mentioned in 1137, was of unknown origin. Its history dated probably back to early high medieval or – as some do suggest – even Roman times.
Especially the assumption of Roman roots derives from one small detail, shown in a plan carried out in the year 1676. The original being lost, the only information concerning the churches floor plan is preserved in a copy published in the year 1872. This very copy shows a few stairs leading – as it seems – down to a deeper located floor, a situation quite unusual for a church. Research from the end of the 19th century onward interpreted this supposed condition as a strong hint, if not a proof of reused remnants. Probably some kind of luxurious tessellated floor – once part a prestigious Roman building – was preserved as the medieval churches floor. This as a result had a strong influence on the discussion of the churches date of origin. The idea of the roman floor became equated with an early date of construction probably between the 9th and the 10th century.
Two excavations were carried out very close to the walls of the baroque church, the last one in 2007 – the mystery of age and origin remained unsolved.
This new research approach tries to incorporate all information that could be deemed from the 19th century onwards to have a new look on the excavation work that was done, including small rescue excavations and observations. Find and feature levels were compared to each other to ascertain or to discard the situation of a potential reuse of Roman remains. As this theory was based on the assumption of the deeper lying floor, it was inevitable to demystify the Plan of 1676. A new concept concerning the particular levels of find and feature in and around the church had to be thought of.
Finally only by working on the whole complex of archaeological, geological and written sources the church of St. Peter´s medieval predecessor in its setting can undergo revaluation.
Keywords: Reuse of roman remnants – church and settlement area – cemetery