Article ID: CBB001450369

Dynasty, Archaeology and Conservation: The Bourbon Rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Eighteenth-Century Naples (2014)


The rediscovery of the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the eighteenth century attracted a huge response from contemporary commentators. Many of these, as well as almost all subsequent judgements from historians, are very critical of the Bourbon excavators. Charles, King of Naples, and his team of antiquaries have been depicted as charlatans, treating ancient artefacts and the sites poorly, interested in them only in so far as they glorified their kingdom. In this article it is argued that, with an understanding of contemporary approaches to antiquity and conservation, this verdict on the Bourbons seems unduly harsh. Their archaeological methods and treatment of classical art were typical for the eighteenth century and were, in some ways, progressive. In support of this harsh judgement of Charles, Winckelmann has been portrayed as a savage critic of the excavations; in reality he was kinder to the Bourbons than historians have believed.

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Authors & Contributors
Romer, John
Romer, Elizabeth
Genovese, A.
Cocca, T.
Jashemski, Wilhelmina Mary Feemster
Meyer, Frederick G.
Journal of the History of Collections
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteitgeschiedenis
Technai, An International Journal for Ancient Science and Technology
Pavia University Press
Checkmark Book
Cambridge University Press
Princeton University Press
Edifir Edizioni
Leo S. Olschki
Natural history
Earth sciences
Excavations (archaeology)
Lyell, Charles
Targioni-Tozzetti, Giovanni
Winckelmann, Johann Joachim
Buonanni, Filippo
Kircher, Athanasius
Leopardi, Giacomo
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
Early modern
20th century, early
Pompeii (Italy)
Middle and Near East
Museum Boerhaave (Leiden)
University of Padua

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