AIA Lecture October 13

Please join us for a lecture by Dr. Lilia Campana (Texas A&M University) on Thursday, October 13 at 6:30, when we will hear her talk titled “Megalomania at Sea: The Recovery of Hellenistic Naval Architecture during the Renaissance” (see below for a lecture description).

The lecture will take place in Room 108, Rhode Island Hall, Brown University campus with a small reception to follow. We hope to see you there!


Lecture DescriptionDuring the Renaissance, Italian humanists attempted to recover the maritime golden age of ancient Greece and Rome. In resurrecting ancient warships, humanists looked at the most magnificent period in maritime history, the Hellenistic Age (323-31 B.C.), which produced a burst of unprecedented proportions resulting in warships of increasingly large size that eventually came to replace the trireme. Since no archaeological remains of ancient warships were available and have yet to be found, the study of ancient texts was crucial to the recovery of ancient naval architecture. Based on the study of several Renaissance naval treatises and unpublished archival sources, two shipbuilding projects are known: the quinqueremis built in 1529 by the Venetian humanist Vettor Fausto (1490-1546), and the grandiose and yet completely unknown attempt in 1570 by the erudite Filippo Pigafetta (1533-1604) to recover the design of the tessarakonteres of Ptolemy IV Philopator (r. 221-204 B.C.), the biggest ship ever built in the ancient Mediterranean. Both Fausto and Pigafetta believed that the knowledge of ancient texts was centrally relevant to the design of their ships and to the solution of practical problems of naval architecture in the material world.

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