In my current research, The Weight of Things, I am writing a non-disciplinary history of experimentation on the weight of substances in pre- and early modern Europe. The Weight of Things brings back to life an intricate network of pure and applied disciplines, ranging from natural philosophy and numismatics to gunnery and artillery. This new multidisciplinary perspective shows that testing on the weight of substances became a major concern for a heterogeneous group of European early modern experts, including antiquarians, alchemists, Jesuits, instrument makers and natural philosophers. This project has been awarded a 3-year grant from the DFG (German Research Foundation) (budget 294,000 Euro, period 2017-2021). From 2016, I received funding to develop specific aspects of this research from the Scientific Instruments Society, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the Vossius Center for History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, the Huntington Library and the Deutsches Museum.
I am also developing a wide ranging research program titled “Empirical Knowledge and the Study of Antiquity in Early Modern Europe, c1500-1800.” The overarching aim of this project is to integrate the early modern antiquarian and historical disciplines in a general history of empirical knowledge. This investigation is subdivided into three sub-projects, respectively, on antiquarian architecture and pre-archeology, the empirical foundations of the Hilfswissenschaften, and the quantitative practices of antiquarian representation in geography and cartography.
In connection with this project, I was recently awarded an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship with Princeton University and the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari, for a research titled “Antiquitates. Empirical Knowledge and Antiquarian Architecture in Sixteenth-Century Venice.” My advisors are Anthony Grafton in Princeton and Marco Sgarbi in Venice.
II also recently wrote a general introduction to a new area of research on early modern antiquarian metrology and numismatics, titled, titled “The Early Modern Study of Ancient Measures in Comparative Perspective: A Preliminary Investigation.” This article will appear in Dmitri Levitin’s and Ian Maclean’s book Beyond Ancients and Moderns. Comparative Approaches to the Reception of the Classical Tradition in Early Modern Europe, c. 1600–1750 (Oxford University Press).