Research database

ND - Vitruvius's De architectura in classical and early modern age: philology, archaeology, digital library, and 3D modellin

24 months (2023 - 2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
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The project focusses on two aspects of Vitruvius De Architectura Libri Decem (first century B.C.): The first aspect, is not to consider it only as a primary source used by Early modern readers, but as a synthesis of what Vitruvius saw and interpreted in terms of Greek Hellenistic and Early Augustan architecture. This distinction allows to investigate on how the Latin architectural theoretician was able to understand and to describe ancient architecture and how he related with architecture of his time both in terms of active design as an architect and in terms of a proto-architectural criticism and theory. The second aspect of the project is about Vitruvius De Architectura as a source in early modern time, from the editio princeps edited by Sulpicio da Veroli (Rome c. 1486) up to Daniele Barbaro’s (Venice 1556). Historiography tends to consider the De Architectura a monolithic source that, starting from the fifteenth century was read by architects, patrons and humanists to learn the hidden theory and the logic of the ruins. Early modern editions are seminal for archaeologists, historians of Latin and Italian literature, less so for architectural historians because they tent to neglect the plurality of the first generations of modern editions filled with mistakes, misinterpretations and corruptions of the text. This project aims to question the notion of “Vitruvian orthodoxy” claiming that this treatise is not the single link of the chain that connects classical architecture with the modern one, but a much more multifaceted and complex part of a process of transmission of the culture of classical architecture. In so doing De Architectura turns into a device that links at least three different period of times of the history of architecture: The Pre-Hellenistic and Hellenistic period, the Early Augustan period and the Renaissance. The research group is organized upon three units and a sub-unit: The first unit belongs to University of Bologna coordinated by the P.I., the second unit belongs to Politecnico of Turin. These two units, composed by architectural historians, will be in charge of the philological and textual analysis of a selection of manuscripts and a dozen of printed Renaissance edition. The third unit from University of Urbino will cover the archaeological part of the project focusing on the Temple G at Selinus, Sicily, which features are compatible with Vitruvius’s description of the Doric temple, and the basilica of Fano of which Vitruvius himself claimed to be the architect and the builder. The Sub-unit is the Museo Galileo in Florence that will provide all the support for the digitalization of the data. An innovative database will make possible to navigate all the Renaissance editions making them comparable in many different ways. This database is the first step for the creation of a digital “Vitruvioteque” displaying all the materials pertaining to Vitruvius, his treatise and his context.

People involved



ERC sectors

SH5_6 - History of art and architecture, arts-based research

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 4. Fornire un’educazione di qualità, equa ed inclusiva, e opportunità di apprendimento per tutti


Total cost: € 257,145.00
Total contribution: € 200,719.00
PoliTo total cost: € 63,918.00
PoliTo contribution: € 63,918.00