Academy research project

Antiquitatum Thesaurus: Antiquities in European Visual Sources from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

The project investigates drawings and prints of the seventeenth and eighteenth century based on artefacts from antiquity, and links them with the ancient objects that they document as well as with other evidence of their reception in a digital repository.

The aim of the research is to make extensive visual material available to scholars of various disciplines – first and foremost of the archaeologies of Europe and the Mediterranean, of art history and history, of ancient and early modern philology, as well as of the history of knowledge and of the Humanities. It includes nearly 7,200 drawings and other unique graphic works as well as roughly 15,000 printed reproductions, which along with the ancient objects, whether preserved or lost, that are documented in them will be processed to create approximately 35,000 datasets. With its focus on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the project closes a gap that is currently found in the foundational research on the reception of ancient works of art and architecture in the early modern period. Not only did the amount of visual material explode during this period; what also emerged were processes of pluralisation and historicisation, which, particularly due to their different reference to the ancient past, are of central importance from the perspective of both politics and society and the history of scholarship.

All the drawings and printed reproductions will be compiled as such and catalogued systematically based on the ancient artefacts depicted in them. The information about ancient monuments and their documentation in images and texts in the early modern period is fed into an – internally and externally – highly integrated online database. With its pivotal broadening of the material basis for research on ancient artefacts in the early modern period, the project contributes to differentiating the concepts of antiquity, arts, and aesthetics in the modern period, and thus opens up new research perspectives. It sheds light in particular on the transformation of knowledge of antiquity in the modern era and provides a new basis for a decisive, shared formative stage for the later disciplines of archaeology and art history.

The Academy research project "Antiquitatum Thesaurus: Antiquities in European Visual Sources from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries" is part of the Research Centre for Primary Sources of the Ancient World  at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The project is part of the Academies Programme, a research funding programme co-financed by the German federal government and individual federal states. Coordinated by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, the Programme intends to retrieve and explore our cultural heritage, to make it accessible and highlight its relevance to the present, as well as to preserve it for the future.

Image: Cabinet de Peiresc, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, RESERVE FOL-AA-54, fol. 71r - Source: / BnF