Giovanni Carafa Duke of Noja, Topographic map of the city of Naples and its surroundings, Naples 1750–75, part.

Naples Digital Archive

Moving Through Time and Space

Historical maps provide an invaluable tool for understanding the form and development of a city. The project will involve combining, for the first time, georeferenced historical maps with graphic and iconographic materials relating to the city of Naples. Based on digital layers, the result will allow movement through the city in time and space.

The project is focused on the study and thematic elaboration of the iconography of the city of Naples from the early modern era up to the present and aims at the creation of a complex digital map based on different temporal layers.

The research team will carry out a historical and critical analysis of the methods of representation of the Neapolitan urban area together with a digital elaboration of relevant examples of cartography that illustrate its historical development. Rich iconographic and cartographic material relative to the city and its environs – starting from the maps of Lafréry 1566, Baratta 1629, Petrini 1748, Duca di Noja 1750–75, Rizzi Zannoni 1790, Marchese 1804–13, Schiavoni 1872–80, and the original cadastral map, 1895–1905 –, as well as new documentary data retrieved from the archives, will be merged on a digital platform that connects the various time layers with a complex database. The basic planimetric reference points will be provided by sixteenth to eighteenth-century maps and registries, the topographic map of the Duke of Noja, nineteenth century plans, and contemporary aerial surveys.

The most innovative contribution of the project towards the enrichment of our knowledge of Naples' urban topography will consist in the development of a "viceroyal map" representing the Neapolitan urban fabric between the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the eighteenth centuries. For this purpose, the research team will collect all possible iconographic and documentary evidence, especially the pre-cadastral maps produced on behalf of the religious orders and private landowners during the period of the Spanish and Austrian viceroyalties (1503–1734), for the recognition, control and parceling of land revenues and the collection of rents. These maps, conserved in Neapolitan and regional (Campanian) archives, will be reproduced in digital format and then digitally linked using specific topographical reference points, creating an image of the city during the viceroyalities, in a format that can be edited and implemented with digitalized graphic and textual data – in particular that obtained from historical guides – and hypertext links.

The historical, iconographic and cartographic data will be implementable in the future, constituting an "open data archive" with levels of definition from the urban to the architectural scale. This will also enable the addition in graphic, textual and/or hyperlinked formats of new documentation from both published and unpublished sources.

The macro area selected for the long-term study consists in the twelve historical districts of Naples as they appear in maps preceding Italian unification. In the two-year period 2018–2020 the focus will be on the development of the historical and technical methodology interfacing with the digital archive. The target will be, on the one hand, the assemblage of the above-mentioned "Viceroyal Map", and on the other, the diachronic analysis of two urban areas: the insula of the Cathedral of Naples, and the urban area surrounding the Decumano maggiore (known as Spaccanapoli) as it expanded from the Greek era through the viceroyal epoch.

The principal goal of the research project, then, is a digital thematic map available online in Open Access.

The result should impact and enhance our knowledge of the historic, artistic and architectural heritage the city center of Naples, on the UNESCO World Heritage site list since 1995, by offering innovative means to ensure better management of its cultural legacy.

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