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Antiquities in Motion: From Excavation Sites to Renaissance Collections

Shortlisted for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award

Barbara Furlotti

Barbara Furlotti presents a dynamic interpretation of the early modern market for antiquities, relying on the innovative notion of archaeological finds as mobile items. She reconstructs the journey of ancient objects from digging sites to venues where they were sold, such as Roman marketplaces and antiquarians’ storage spaces; to sculptors’ workshops, where they were restored; and to Italian and other European collections, where they arrived after complicated and costly travel over land and sea. She shifts the attention from collectors to peasants with shovels, dealers and middlemen, and restorers who unearthed, cleaned up, and repaired or remade objects, recuperating the roles these actors played in Rome’s socioeconomic structure.

Furlotti also examines the changes in economic value, meaning, and appearance that antiquities underwent as they moved throughout their journeys and as they reached the locations in which they were displayed. Drawing on vast unpublished archival material, she offers answers to novel questions: How were antiquities excavated? How and where were they traded? How were laws about the ownership of ancient finds made, followed, and evaded?

Barbara Furlotti is associate lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She authored A Renaissance Baron and His Possessions: Paolo Giordano I Orsini, Duke of Bracciano (1541–1585) and contributed to Display of Art in the Roman Palace, 1550 1750 (Getty Publications, 2014).

One of Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year for 2019!

“Exceptional . . . detailed, original, scholarly and beautifully produced.”
—Arthur MacGregor, Journal of the History of Collections

“Providing important background to some of the most famous finds in 16th-century Rome, the book paints a detailed picture of the early modern city as a hotbed of discovery, deals, and deception.”
Current World Archaeology

“The book is thoughtfully illustrated and beautifully produced . . .  and will change the way we think about the history of antiquities collecting.”
—William Stenhouse, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture

”The book effectively challenges the notion of a civilised antiquarian by revealing the lengths that people would go to find, trade, transport and ultimately own antiquities. Indeed, it is a timely reminder that we should perhaps reflect on the contemporary trade in antiquities and its social and ethical issues.”

292 pages
8 x 10 inches
140 color and 7 b/w 

ISBN 978-1-60606-591-4


Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute