Italian

Oldest Torah scroll discovered in university library

In 1889, a librarian at the University of Bologna in Italy made a terrible mistake. He dated and labeled a scroll to the 17th century, but recent tests have placed the document in the 12th century, making it "the oldest complete text of the Torah known to exist." (photo)

Digitization of Vatican Library faces challenges

A year after the project's announcement, the firist digitized volumes of the Vatican Library are now available online. Experts began with the library's "most delicate" volumes, including "the Vatican’s 8,900 incunabula (books printed before 1501): the Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written a millennia ago, a 4th century manuscript of the Greek Bible and the De Europa of Pope Pius II, printed around 1491."

Is this the oldest European image of Native Americans?

Restoration of a fresco in the Vatican has revealed a small group of naked dancing men with feathers in their hair. Researchers think these figures may be depictions of Native Americans. The fresco was painted by Renaissance master Pinturicchio in 1494, just two years after Columbus sailed to America.

Medici Family Afflicted by Rickets

Exhumed skeletons of the family members of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany show distinctive signs of rickets, some from early birth.

Cottage wall plate "discovery of a lifetime"

Dorset auctioneer Richard Bromell had an Antiques Roadshow moment recently when he was told that a plate, "found hanging on a makeshift wire frame in a Somerset cottage" was a 16th century original maiolica, bringing over £500,000 at auction. (photo)

European debt crisis - past and present

The debt woes of Cyprus and Greece, along with other European countries, have garnered headlines in recent days, but the stories are not new. Renaissance Florence had its own debt crisis, with a solution that looks surprisingly modern.

Early Renaissance Art at the Art Gallary of Ontario

The birth of the Renaissance in Florence is the subject of an exhibition at the Art Gallary of Ontario with the exhibition Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art. The exhibit will be on display March 16 – June 16, 2013.

Gangrene claimed Giovanni de’ Medici

It was not a blow in combat that felled legendary Renaissance warrior Giovanni de’ Medici, but gangrene resulting from being hit by a cannon ball, in a battle in Lombardy on Nov. 25, 1526, according to a new study conducted after the exhumation of de’ Medici's body.

Identity theft in the Renaissance

Most people believe that identify theft is a modern concept, but the Renaissance also had its share of frauds and pretenders. In a new book Renaissance Impostors and Proofs of Identity, author Miriam Eliav-Feldon of Tel Aviv University's Department of History looks at men and women of the time who played loosely with the rules of identity.

"Mini dome" may be clue to Brunelleschi building secrets

A team of Italian archaeologists has uncovered the remains of a "mini dome" during excavations to expand the museum of Florence’s cathedral, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the 15th century. The structure might be a scale model of the cathedral and the first use of a building technique in Italy.

Arrest Warrant for Niccolo Machiavelli is Unearthed

The 1513 document calls for Machiavelli's arrest, to be proclaimed by the town crier.

[AET] Feast of the Seven Deadly Sins / Investiture

A Day with the Borgias – a festival in Renaissance Italy at the cross of the 15th and 16th centuries, featuring Delftwood’s 10th Baronial Investiture.

Own an early Bronzino for a mere US$18 million

On January 30, 2013, Christie’s Auction House will place on sale Agnolo Bronzino’s Portrait of a Young Man With a Book, "a relatively unknown panel depicting a man with a reddish beard in his 20s dressed in black, sitting at a table covered with green cloth." (photo)

Notation Knives

On display at the Victoria & Albert Museum is a rare "notation knife". Each side is engraved with the music and words for a blessing and a "thanks" for the meal.

Art historians staggered by loss from Italian earthquakes

During the past few months, medieval and renaissance art and architecture in Italy have taken a pounding from earthquakes which devasted the country's mountain towns, killing over 20 people and damaging or destroying more than 2000 historic churches and buildings.

Remains of celebrated de' Medici condottieri exhumed

Gino Fornaciari, professor of forensic anthropology and director of the pathology Museum at the University of Pisa, leads a team of scientists who recently exhumed the body of Giovanni de' Medici, considered one of the greatest warriors of the age. The team plans to study the body to better understand Renaissance surgery.

Adopt a spire in Milan

Philantropists around the world have been invited to "adopt" a spire of the 14th century cathedral in Milan, Italy. For the gift of 100,000 euros (UK£80,000), donors will receive the right to have their names inscribed on one of the church's 135 spires.

Scottish farmhouse painting could be lost da Vinci

When cash-strapped Fiona McLaren took a family painting to an expert for evaluation, she was shocked to learn that the 23x28 inch (58x71 cm) piece might be an unknown work by Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci. (photo)

Free Renaissance eBook

Once per month, the University of Chicago Press offers a free eBook download. The book for November 2012 is How to Do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians by Rudolph M. Bell (c. 1999).

[EAS] 'Yet Unnamed' Masqued Ball

It is said that the Carnival of Venice was originated from a victory of the "Repubblica della Serenissima", Venice's previous name, against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico in the year 1162.  In the honor of this victory, the people started to dance and make reunions in San Marco Square.  Apparently this festival started on that period and become official in the Renaissance.

Finding the bones of Mona Lisa

Historians' obsession with the real life Mona Lisa continues with the recent discovery of a complete skeleton beneath the floor of the derelict Convent of St. Orsola in Florence, Italy. Some experts believe the remains are those of Lisa Gherardini, AKA Mona Lisa.

Community unites to rebuild 13th century clocktower

In May 2012, disaster struck the small Italian town of Finale Emilia in the form of two powerful earthquakes which destroyed the town's 13th-century clock tower. Now teams of volunteers from across Italy are coming together to help reconstruct the historic Torre dei Modenesi. (photos)

Wisconsin museum to host interactive da Vinci machine exhibition

The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin will play host to the touring exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion from September 22, 2012 through January 6, 2013. The museum will also present activities and events related to the exhibit.

Roman trading vessel, cargo found in Italy

"There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food filled," Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi about a 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck found recently off the coast of the Italian city of Genoa.

Thermal Quasi-Reflectography new tool for art historians

Experts tasked with restoring damaged and faded works of art have a new tool in their toolbox: Thermal Quasi-Reflectography (TQR), a process which uses the mid-infrared part of the spectrum to reveal images invisible to the naked eye. (photos)

Banking records found under 15th century heraldry

Economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London have discovered Italian banking records dating to the early 15th century half covered by English coats of arms in a book of British heraldry.

Photographer documents decline of Italian villas

Once the grand homes of Italian nobles in the Renaissance, the villas of northern Italy still hold hints of their grandeur. Photographer Thomas Jorion documented these lost treasures in a gallery show entitled Forgotten Palaces. (photos)

Sicily's Roman mosaics return to public view

The 4th century Roman mosaics at the Villa del Casale at the Piazza Armerina in Sicily are considered “the finest in situ in the Roman world.” Now the newly-restored stone tiles are again open to the public. (photo)

16th century social networking

A team of experts from the University of London, Royal Holloway, and the British Library and Reading University has discovered documents to prove that 16th century Italian Academies created networks to share information.

Evidence of medieval spectacles found in book

On the blog Cultural Compass, an employee of the Harry Ransom Center chronicles the discovery of rare evidence of medieval eyeglasses, not in an illustration, but in the end pages of a book.