Benedetta Bessi

Benedetta Bessi

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
European Community Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow

Benedetta Bessi is a Classical archaeologist interested in the cultural history of the ancient Mediterranean, history of archaeology and digital humanities.

She has done fieldwork and research in Italy, Greece, Syria and Libya and has travelled extensively to North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East acquiring first-hand familiarity with archaeological sites, museums and the cultural heritage of these areas.

She holds a B.A. in Classics  from the University of Florence (with a one year at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich), a postgraduate specialization degree in Classical Archaeology from the Italian Archaeological School of Athens (SAIA), a PhD in Greek and  Roman Archaeology and History of Art from the University of Messina and a three year diploma in Arabic language and Arabic culture from the Italian Institute for Africa and the Orient (ISIAO).

She was Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton and Alexander Onassis research fellow at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens.

She has taught courses in Classics and Classical Archaeology at many American institutions in Rome including John Cabot University and Temple Rome Program and she has been featured in documentaries and TV shows on History Channel, National Geographic and Netflix.

As the recipient of the European Community  Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellowship, she is now working on the project “Mapping the Aegean: Cristoforo Buondelmonti's Liber insularum (15th c.) and the Origins of Classical Archaeology”

MapAeg is aimed at the study and the promotion of knowledge of the Liber Insularum Archipelagi (1420) by the Florentine traveler Cristoforo Buondelmonti. This book can be considered the first guide to the Greek islands, each of them described by a textual paragraph and illustrated by colour maps, in a format which gave rise to the new literary genre of Isolaria.  In addition to offering precious information on the specific islands, the Liber occupies a relevant role in history of European cultural heritage  as the travels of Buondelmonti paved the way to the rediscovery and exploration of Greece, a land whose territory, language and culture weere still largely unknown to the Western European scholars.

Because of Buondelmonti’s Humanistic background, his descriptions and even the maps incorporate frequent references to ancient ruins and settlements and his autoptical surveys of the Greek islands represent the first step for the birth and development of Classical archaeology.

Given the fortune and the impact this work - which circulated in around 75 manuscript copies not only in the Latin original version, but also in translations in Greek, English, French and Italian- had on the Italian and European Humanistic circles, the Liber represents a fundamental text in the rediscovery and transmission of the Classical tradition and it therefore deserves a full and comprehensive multidisciplinary study which combines traditional scholarly research with the application of Digital Humanities. 

One of the goals of the project is the creation of digital edition of this text (facsimile, transcription, English translation) accompanied by a historical-archaeological commentary on the Liber of Buondelmonti.