The churches in Rome built between the end of the eighth and the middle of the ninth century are among the best preserved monuments of the Carolingian era anywhere in Europe. As such, they have afforded scholars the rare opportunity to study in detail the various media utilised in Carolingian church decoration. The floor pavement, however, is an aspect of this decoration that has received little attention and it is my purpose here to point out the presence of a small but distinct group of opus sectile floors in Rome that seem to belong to this period.
Of the Carolingian churches in Rome, S. Prassede, built for Pope Paschal I (817–824), is by far the most complete in its structural fabric, architectural sculpture and mosaic decoration. The best preserved part of the church is the S. Zeno chapel adjoining the right aisle, and the opus sectile pavement of this chapel is perhaps the most luxurious in our series. Indeed, it is the only one to have received previous notice, beginning with its publication by R. Cattaneo in 1890.