Detailed sheets

Smaller Baptistery

The L chamber of the cemetery basilica (fig. 1), to the north of the Columbaris area, was already considered the smaller baptistery when it was first found in 1962.

That space was originally connected to the H chamber and, according to the discoverer, Ovidio Addis, the baptismal font was already present before being separated by a dividing wall. The resulting space had walls built with a rough building technique then plastered and with the baptismal font in the centre. The latter was irregular in shape, with long, straight sides and short ones shaped like lobes (fig. 2). Each one had an internal flight of stairs, with three steps, to facilitate the descent of catechumens into the basin where the rite took place. The bath was topped by a canopy (fig. 3), decorated internally with glass tiles and externally by marble slabs. Those elements were found in fragments inside the bath itself and nearby. During the dig they identified a drainage pipeline, a squared section canal probably feeding the bath, a fireplace and an earth and opus signinum floor. When the area became a separate environment (L) with the wall built, two stone baths were placed on the North-East side to be used as utensils. They have hypothesised two life stages: the first with the font used as a baptistery while the second involved the bath no longer being used, the creation of L and resulting reuse of the chamber for domestic purposes. After the first baptistery was no longer used, baptism was probably performed in the bath built in the southern sector, inside the specific basilica.

Fig. 1 - Map of the cemetery basilica (from MASTINO 1984, p. 98, fig. 13).
Fig. 2 - The smaller baptistery when it was found (from FARRIS 1993, p. 172).
Fig. 3 - Canopy over the baptismal font of Santa Maria Assunta at Atri (,_Paolo_de_Garviis_(1503).jpg).


  • O. ADDIS, Relazione sui lavori di ricerca replicata ed ampliata in Cornus, Regione Columbaris. 23 luglio - 31 ottobre 1962 (Archivio della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici per le province di Cagliari e Oristano), pp. 22-24
  • O. ADDIS, Il complesso paleocristiano di Cornus secondo i risultati di un recente scavo. In Atti del XIII Congresso di storia dell'architettura (Cagliari, 6-12 aprile 1963), I, Roma, pp. 181-190.
  • G. FARRIS, Le aree paleocristiane di Cornus, Oristano 1993, pp. 172.
  • A. M. GIUNTELLA, Cornus I.1. L'area cimiteriale orientale = Mediterraneo tardoantico e medievale. Scavi e ricerche, 13. 1, Oristano 1999, p. 33.
  • A. MASTINO, Cornus nella storia degli studi con un catalogo delle iscrizioni rinvenute nel territorio del comune di Cuglieri, Cagliari 1984, p. 98.
  • L. PANI ERMINI, Note sulle recenti indagini nel complesso episcopale di Cornus, in AA. VV., Ampsicora e il territorio di Cornus. Atti del II Convegno sull'archeologia romana e altomedievale nell'Oristanese (Cuglieri, 22 dicembre 1985) = Mediterraneo tardoantico e medievale. Scavi e ricerche, 6, Taranto 1988, pp. 59-65.
  • P. TESTINI, Il complesso paleocristiano di Cornus: considerazioni e prospettive, in AA.VV., L'archeologia romana e altomedievale nell'Oristanese. Atti del Convegno di Cuglieri (22-23 giugno 1984) = Mediterraneo tardoantico e medievale, Scavi e ricerche, 3, Taranto 1986, pp. 75-81.