Furniture-casket from the main basilica

In the episcopal basilica of Cornus, to the right of the apse, you have the so-called consignatorium (fig. 1); in the background, in a central position, you can see a lytic furniture item (fig. 2). It is a kind of parallelepiped box (h. cm 63 x length cm 1.36 x width cm 82); its sides are formed by three limestone slabs, while the wall of the consignatorium acts as its rear side (figs. 3-5); discovered on top, there is a quadrangular recess on the prospectus: this led to assume that it was originally closed by a cover with a small hatch or a metal lock placed in the front recess (for similarity with the lock see fig. 6; for the box see figs. 7-8).

The box has been interpreted in various ways: as an altar-shrine, as a furniture-casket, holding the seal and furnishings linked to the functions held by the bishop in that chamber. With side benches, the chamber was probably dedicated to celebrating the sacrament of confirmation and the signing of documents by the prelate.

Fig. 1 - Plant of the main basilica with indication of the consignatorium (from FARRIS 1993, p. 100, tab. 5).
Fig. 2 - Plant of the consignatorium (from FARRIS 1993, p. 75, tab. 8).
Fig. 3 - Main Basilica: furniture-casket of the consignatorium (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 4 - Main Basilica: furniture-casket of the consignatorium (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 5 - Perspective and map of the Cornus casket (from FARRIS 1993, p. 76, Tab. 9).
Fig. 6 - Ivory casket with engraved decorations and silver engraved kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris (from
Fig. 7 - Pola (Croatia): capsella of Samagher of the V century A.D. (from
Fig. 8 - Brescia: Museum of S. Giulia, Syrian Alexandrian ivory box-shrine (from


  • 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. 74-77.
  • G. ZANCHI, Lo spirito e le cose. Luoghi della liturgia = Sestante, 19, Milano 2003.