My research focuses on the question of the common origin and development of the early modern sciences and humanities. It is customary to identify the emergence of empiricism in Europe with the establishment of the sciences of nature. Instead, I suggest that quantitative and empirical methods were also deep- rooted forms of knowledge-making of the early modern historical disciplines.
I was recently awarded an European Union Marie 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.” I work with Anthony Grafton in Princeton and Marco Sgarbi in Venice.
I am currently working on a monograph on the early modern study of ancient measures. For an introduction to this work, see my recent chapter “The Early Modern Study of Ancient Measures in Comparative Perspective: A Preliminary Investigation.” In: Dmitri Levitin and Ian Maclean, eds., The Worlds of Knowledge and the Classical Tradition in the Early Modern Age: Comparative Approaches. Brill (2021)
Stemming from research I conducted in Berlin between 2017 and 2021 (The Weight of Things), I am also writing a multidisciplinary history of experimentation on the weight of substances in pre- and early modern Europe. The Weight of Things explores surprising interactions between the world of scholarship and practical knowledge. It brings back to life an intricate network of pure and applied disciplines, ranging from natural philosophy and numismatics to gunnery and artillery. It investigates a heterogeneous group of experts who methodically started measuring the weight of substances: both scholars and technical practitioners, like instrument makers, architects, alchemists, and even antiquarians and biblical interpreters. This project was 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.