Mapping Sacred Spaces - The Digital Archive Project

Searching, collecting, cataloging, archiving medieval marble liturgical furnishings and decorations

1. The Mapping Sacred Spaces (MSS) Project
The Digital Archive Project represents a fundamental step of the project Mapping Sacred Spaces. Forms, Functions, and Aesthetics in Medieval Southern Italy, directed by Tanja Michalsky, Elisabetta Scirocco, Ruggero Longo (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History) and Manuela Gianandrea (Università di Roma "La Sapienza"). This project aims to fully analyze the sacred space in the Middle Ages in Southern Italy between the tenth and fourteenth centuries .
A fundamental role in the creation of sacred space and subspaces is played by monumental liturgical furnishings. The MSS project's first step will thus be the historical (and virtual, when possible) reconstruction of the spatial contexts within the geographical area of reference. This reconstruction will be necessarily based on historical sources and material evidences, which firstly need to be collected, catalogued and systematized.

2. The MSS Digital Archive Project
The MSS project is based on an approach that is both historical and archaeological and will be directed from the outset towards the systematization of the collected data and the formulation of reconstructive hypotheses of sacred spaces in their medieval facies.

The MSS Digital Archive is conceived as a database, cataloguing and systematizing all the information data related to the Corpus of liturgical furnishings of Southern Italy, distributed per monuments and divided per geographical areas; and as an archive, collecting all the documental and iconographical sources as far as bibliographical references related to the objects within the monuments.

The first step for the construction of the Digital Archive will be the creation and the implementation of the database. It will be set in its starting phase (2 years) focusing on Norman monuments and Southern Italian materials from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.
Both the art and architecture of Norman South Italy and the digital technologies applied to humanities are among the principal field of research and expertise of the proponent Ruggero Longo (see CV attached).

3. Objectives and Objects
The main objective of MSS-Digital Archive Project is the creation and implementation of the database. This is a challenging trans-disciplinary aim, since the information required are coming both from the humanistic field and the scientific disciplines.
The monument will represent the working space, corresponding to geographical and topographical information in the database, while the objects are represented by the liturgical furnishings, such as altars, iconostasis, marble screens, chancel barriers, ambos, and paschal candlesticks, both in their preserved condition of whole objects and/or in their fragmented compositions and altered locations.
The monument as working space means not only the container of objects: it especially has to be identified with the architectural context in which the objects are conceived and displayed, being essential for a holistic approach as the only way to better understand functions and meanings of the objects themselves.

4. Methodology and Tools
The analysis is based on a trans-disciplinary approach, taking into account, on the one hand, the chronology of the object (liturgical furnishings and their fragments), its original and current functions, its visual forms and style, its historical context; on the other hand, the measurements, the 2D and/or 3D surveys, the materials employed and the working techniques.
The first set of information needs for an art-historical phase of investigation on objects, including bibliographical and archival researches; the second set of data will need another phase of investigation, constituted by archaeometric observations and scientific analyses, the reports of which should be also available in the Digital Archive.
The integration between the first set of information and the second set of scientific data represents one of the most innovative aspects of the MSS Project.
The collection of all possible iconographical sources related to the monuments and liturgical objects will be also important for two related goals:
(1) The diachronic history of the objects;
(2) The preservation history and the present state of conservation of the objects.

5) Goals and Outputs
a) The first goal, to be accomplished within the first year of the MSS-DA Project, is the construction and the implementation of the digital archive, constituted by the database on liturgical furnishing in Norman South Italy.

b) A second output is the consequent creation of a Census of liturgical furnishings of Norman South Italy, concerning all the possible items – including those preserved in museums and storages – to be included within the MSS-Digital Archive and to be investigated through the MSS Project.

c) A parallel output, related with the iconography and style of the liturgical furnishings decorations, will be the creation of a catalogue of opus sectile ornamental patterns, divided per monuments, as a complementary tool to analyze and investigate the circulation of models and artisans across the investigated area in the Middle Ages.

d) During the two years of the project, it will be feasible to coordinate addressed photo-campaigns promoted by the Photographic Collection of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, in order to increment the iconographical data, taking advantage of possible visiting missions devoted to the study and the survey of specific monuments related to the MSS Project.

Public Presentations

Elisabetta Scirocco, Ruggero Longo: Spazi liturgici, maestranze e tecniche nel regno normanno tra Amalfi e Palermo, Convegno Internazionale di Studi "Amalfi e la Sicilia nel Medioevo. Uomini, commerci, culture" – Centro di Storia e Cultura Amalfitana, Amalfi, Biblioteca Comunale, 13.–14.12.2019.

Elisabetta Scirocco e Ruggero Longo: Dagli arredi liturgici della cattedrale di Salerno al progetto Mapping Sacred Spaces: metodologie e contesti per lo studio dello spazio sacro medievale, Il manoscritto ritrovato. Il breviario-messale salernitano del Museo Leone di Vercelli: una nuova fonte per il XII secolo, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Edificio B1, primo piano, Sala conferenze del DISPAC, 27.11.2019.

Ruggero Longo: Dallo spazio alla parola. Ripensare la Cappella Palatina, rileggere Filagato da Cerami, From Words to Space – Textual Sources for Reconstructing and Understanding Medieval Sacred Spaces, International Workshop organized by Sible de Blaauw and Elisabetta Scirocco, Biblioteca Hertziana Rome, 27.–28.03.2019.

Ruggero Longo e Elisabetta Scirocco: Lo spazio sacro di Guglielmo II: i corredi marmorei e l'arredo liturgico della Cattedrale di Monreale, Convegno di Studi in occasione del 750° anniversario della dedicazione della Cattedrale di Monreale, Monreale, 09.05.2018.

Manuela Gianandrea e Ruggero Longo: Lo spazio sacro del duomo di Terracina: arredo liturgico, pavimento e "brani" marmorei, in Terracina nel Medioevo, Convegno di studi organizzato da Mariella Nuzzo e Maria Teresa Gigliozzi, Terracina, 09.–10.02.2018.

The circulation of materials in Norman Palermo: interchanges, workshop Dynamics and Material Matters, Tangible Cities. Materiality and Identity in Southern Italy (1100–1800), International Workshop organized by Stefano D'Ovidio, Tanja Michalsky, Joris van Jastel, Biblioteca Hertziana Rome, 06.–07.07.2017.

Three-dimensional model and digital information on the Norman Palace in Palermo: New tools for new understanding of Medieval Spaces, 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, 11.–14.05.2017.

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