This fragment comes from a marble fluted torso column shaft. According to the definition given by Louis de Jancourt in the first edition of the 1751 Encyclopedia, "The fluted torso column is called the column whose flutes follow the contour of its barrel in a spiral line throughout its length" (Volume 16, p. 434). This type of column appeared in the Roman Empire around 400 AD.
Clearing itself of the classical architectural orders that punctuated the whole of Antiquity, the architecture of the early Christian period nevertheless reinvested the pre-existing plastic canons. Indeed, the column has been a major architectural and decorative element since the early days of Greek buildings. However, the orders are well established and know very few modifications until Late Antiquity, a period that saw the birth of a new era of the latter, as is remarkable in this barrel fragment. It can be compared to two other Roman barrels dated c. 400-500, certainly from the old early Christian church of the Bream in Toulouse and kept at the Toulouse Museum of Archaeology, the Saint Raymond Museum.
Our fragment was hollowed out, certainly in order to make a mortar out of it. This practice of reusing architectural elements is very common. Indeed, old pieces of buildings could either be used to make new objects, such as mortars, clams, etc... and other times they kept their original function, but reassembled in order to adapt to the aesthetic expectations of their time and fill in the gaps.
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