Lillian Datchev

Graduate Student
G-05 Dickinson Hall
Office Hours
Monday: 2:20 pm-3:20 pm
Wednesday: 1:20 pm-2:20 pm

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, "The Origins of Antiquarian Scholarship, 1204-1545" examines how and why the study of classical and early Christian artifacts became systematic in fifteenth-century Italy. I find that in this transformation, humanists were far less affected by the scholarly ideas about history and historical evidence cultivated in Florence and Rome at the time, best exemplified by Lorenzo Valla, than by the new capitalist culture of the late Middle Ages. The Italian colonies and commercial outposts in the Adriatic, Aegean, and Crimea, established since the crusades, gave rise to an Italian urban elite that had a keen, idiosyncratic interest in antiquities already before the blossom of humanism. They were the first to begin searching on a large scale among the decaying rubble and overgrown vegetation of Byzantine villages for lost artifacts, using the trained merchant's eye to identify their provenance and value. It was from them that humanists--who initially preferred medieval, bookish methods of inquiry--learned to make such open-ended explorations based on firsthand observation.

At Princeton, I co-organized the conference, "The Filologus and Antiquarius: Studying Language and Objects in Renaissance Europe" with Anthony Grafton and Mateusz Falkowski in 2018. I also coordinated the Early Modern History Workshop with Anthony Grafton and Nikianna Dinenis in 2022-2023. 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 Teresa Shawcross and Earnestine Qiu in 2022-2023. As part of this project, we are organizing the conference, "Black Sea Migrations in the Long Thirteenth Century: Bodies, Things, Ideas" in September 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.

Selected Publications

"Ciriaco d'Ancona and the Origins of Epigraphy." Renaissance Quarterly 76.2 (Summer 2023): 1-53.

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