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The Philosophy of the Website: from Analogic Era to Digital Era

Note of the Author

This website  was born in 2005 to disseminate and share what I have studied and learned in many years of work. This is an expanded and renewed edition, updated in content and graphics.

The documents and my ideas are available to everyone, as long as you have the correctness to quote the source. If you have any (serious) questions you can contact me directly.

Marion Elizabeth Blake, one of the first and greatest experts on ancient mosaics, wrote that «a lifetime should be devoted to the study of mosaics».
My story with Villa Adriana started right from its beautiful mosaics. But the Villa has turned out to be a vast, multifaceted and fascinating field of study, endless: therefore a lifetime is not enough, it would take two or three...

Villa Adriana is the navel of ancient Roman imperial architecture and everything goes around it. It has been the crossroad of the greatest architects, antiquarians, archaeologists, scholars and enthusiasts of all times, still a source of inspiration and a place of majestic beauty.

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Guided tour in the Canopus

I started from a traditional Humanistic education, a Degree in Ancient Literature with a typically Italian antiquarian and historical-artistic approach. Fascinated like many by the art and beauty of Greek temples, after visiting the Parthenon.

The Master of Arts in the United States gave me a more modern, typically Anglo-Saxon approach, focused on data collected with field research, exploration and on-spot surveys. The critical spirit was fundamental, everything could be questioned, traditional interpretations could be review, confirmed or denied.

This is true for Villa Adriana, which has been studied for more than five hundred years, but is little known in many things. Centuries of "copy-and-paste" always pass on the same ideas, such as the ridiculous theory that the Small Baths were meant for women and the Large Baths for men.

On the one hand, therefore, I was a bookworm, on the other a little Indiana Jones (which is a lot more fun). I merged theory and practice, both of which are necessary. But you can discover new things only with field archaeology.

I went from the Analogical era to the Digital era and I know the pros and and cons of both. I worked as amanuensis in the wonderful Vatican Library, transcribing the ancient texts that could not be photocopied. I was the first to bring a laptop into the German Archaeological Institute of Rome: they confined me into a separate room... because the clatter of the keys disturbed the other scholars (!).

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The magnificent Vatican Lilbrary

Now everything is different.
Many antiquarian texts are available online, free of charge or for a reasonable fee as in the case of the Vatican Library.
Portals such as Academia.edu or ResearchGate allow scholars to know each other, get in touch directly, as well as publish articles, disseminate their research, discuss ideas.

With digital photography I have a wealth of thousands of photographs. Engravings, drawings, ancient manuscripts and plans can be studied comfortably at home, enlarging them at will, discovering new details.
The three-dimensional reconstructions can show everyone what only the expert eye of the archaeologist can see in the bare ruins.


In Paestum

I was the first to use the Laser Scanner during the surveys at Villa Adriana with the architect Umberto Pavanello, because I immediately understood the enormous potential of that technology.

With the archaeo-astronomer Giuseppe Veneziano we were the pioneers in the studies of Roman Cultural Archaeoastronomy, starting right from Villa Adriana. Then we discovered other extraordinary luminous phenomena such as the Arc of Light in the Pantheon.

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On-site surveys at Villa Adriana

After this tribute to information technology, please be advised that a thinking human brain is still needed to put so much data (so easy to get) to good use. To do so you must have studied and continue to do so.

I would like to remind today's scholars, especially young ones, that the positive potential of the Internet is enormous. But forget wikipedia and copy-and-paste: you must read, be critical, understand and think with your own mind.
Make no mistake about Artificial Intelligence: the computer doesn't reason and doesn't think, we do.

Finally, a special thanks «to the emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus who made my life different»; as I always say, perhaps if he sees us from up there he looks at us and laughs: we need a Time Machine.

Villa Adriana - Progetto Accademia
©2023-24 Marina De Franceschini

e-Mail: rirella.editrice@gmail.com
VILLA ADRIANA di Marina De Franceschini

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