Lillian Datchev


I study the cultural and intellectual traditions of classical, medieval, and early modern Europe and the Mediterranean, and specialize in the history of Italy and its contacts abroad in the Renaissance. 

My dissertation examines how and why the study of antiquities became systematic in fifteenth-century Italy. I find that Italy's colonies and commercial outposts in Greece, established during the crusades, gave rise to an Italian urban elite that collected and exchanged antiquities already before the blossom of humanism. Their practical familiarity with these objects became essential to the bookish investigations of humanists who eventually came to visit them. This confluence of events helped shape a new kind of empiricism, a firsthand approach to artifacts that was not widely practiced before.

At Princeton, I co-organized the conference The Philologus and Antiquarius: Studying Language and Objects in Renaissance Europe in 2018 with Professor Anthony Grafton and Mateusz Falkowski. And, I am co-organizing The Medieval Black Sea Project, a research project that investigates the different peoples, objects, and ideas that interacted in this region, with Professor Teresa Shawcross and Earnestine Qiu in 2022-2024. I am also coordinating the Early Modern History Workshop with Professor Anthony Grafton and Nikianna Dinenis in 2022-2023.

I received a B.A. in philosophy and the history of mathematics and science from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland in 2013, and a M.A. in the cultural and intellectual history of the Renaissance from the Warburg Institute in 2016. My research has been supported by a Mellon fellowship in post-classical Latin at UCLA in 2016-2017, a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Bologna in 2020-2021, and the Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome in 2021-2022.


"Ciriaco d'Ancona and the Origins of Epigraphy." Renaissance Quarterly 76.2 (forthcoming)

Year of Study
Sixth Year
Area of Interest
Cultural History
Economic History
Intellectual History
Material Culture
Political History
Visual Culture
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