Skip to main content

Petrifying Wealth. The Southern European Shift to Masonry as Collective Investment in Identity, c.1050-1300

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PETRIFYING WEALTH (Petrifying Wealth. The Southern European Shift to Masonry as Collective Investment in Identity, c.1050-1300)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

Between the years 1050 and 1300 the European landscape turned to stone. It was a structural transformation that led to the birth of a new, long-lasting panorama and helped in the creation of individual, collective and regional identities: a landscape epitomising the way we see the space and territory of Europe. The Petrifying Wealth project seeks to rewrite the social history of the central Middle Ages, emphasizing the need to reassess from an untried perspective an element that has always been present in our vision of the period—the sudden ubiquity of masonry construction—but which has hardly been given the opportunity to provide in-depth explanations for complex social dynamics. It is a project that seeks to offer novel explanations to previously unasked questions about wealth, building, and collective identity.
The speed, extent, and systematization of the construction of churches, towers, castle walls, palaces, and houses within castles and cities provide evidence of an underlying, if unaddressed, issue. It is precisely in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that the structural link can most clearly be seen between both private and collective wealth, and the investment in stone structures built to last. The study of the shift involving new institutional dynamics, but also unprecedented social practices, as well as ideological concepts radically different from those that had prevailed until then, aims to break down assumptions that have naturalized this truly astonishing process while using as case studies the undervalued regions of southern Europe to explore the larger questions. By inverting the standard approach that sees the heart of the former Carolingian empire (present-day France and Germany) as the wellspring from which other “peripheral” territories drank, Dr. Ana Rodríguez and Dr. Sandro Carocci are undertaking to bring new light to probe the greater meaning behind the process of masonry building as an investment in social identity in the central Middle Ages.
A report submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for GA695515, reporting period months 1-18. Start up date of the project: January, 1st, 2017.

"Petrifying Wealth. The Southern European Shift to Masonry as Collective Investment in Identity, c. 1050-1300 ", ERC Advanced Grant, is a project that aims to analyse the structural transformations in Europe that led to the birth of a new landscape between the 11th and 13th centuries characterized by the amplitude and rapid diffusion of stone constructions and other durable materials. Within the framework of these research lines, the team is currently working on the development of an open PostgreSQL database covering the mentioned period in Iberia and some regions of Italy and Southern France including fields such as history, art history, architecture and archeology of architecture . This database will have its corresponding spatial extension PostGIS, which will make it possible to visualise and analyse the breadth of phenomenon, with the ultimate objective of studying in depth not only new institutional dynamics, but also the social uses and conceptions ideologies previously unpublished, until that moment, in Western Europe.

For its most part Petrifying Wealth is managing data already structured in collected databases or from bibliographic or documentary sources. Currently the team is working on the following research data in order to develop the common database:

• Enciclopedia del Románico (Encyclopedia of Romanesque Art) developed by the Santa Maria la Real Foundation (Fundación Santa María La Real del Patrimonio Histórico (FSMLRPH), a non-profit Spanish private cultural foundation. An agreement has been signed between the FSMLRPH and the CSIC in order to have access to this database of more than 5.000 references to Romanesque buildings in Iberia.
• Case studies: currently Petrifying Wealth's interdisciplinary team is working in Segovia, Zamora, Soria, the rural area of Merindades de Castilla (Burgos), Rome, Tivoli and Tuscany. Other possible case studies are now being selected. Field work undertaken by the PhD and posdoctoral members of the project will constitute specific datasets.
• Rome: the team is expanding and completing the data obtained from the project Forma Urbis della Roma medievale of the Laboratorio di Archeologia Medievale of the Università di Roma Tor Vergata (principal investigators: Sandro Carocci, Alessandra Molinari).
• Patrimonial data available in public administrations and administrative data.

Parallel to the work with patrimonial spatial entities, the analysis of written sources, both paleographic and epigraphic, contemporary to the period of study (11th to 13th centuries) is being carried out. Of particular relevance are the documentary collections of Segovia, León, Zamora, Burgos and some monasteries of the same regions; in Italy the documentary collection of Genoa, Rome, Verona and other cities.
Finally, mention should be made of the bibliographic management of the project. Mendeley is the chosen tool for managing citations, creating bibliographies and organizing PDFs. We have so far included more than 600 references.

The Data Model is already finished and it will be included the following version of the project's Data Management Plan once it has been sufficiently tested by the members of the project. For more information on the data management in Petrifying Wealth see our DMP (Initial version)

In order to be able to carry out the above mentioned workload, an interdisciplinary team has been carefully configured. The research team of Petrifying Wealth is capable of integrating varied methodologies from disciplines such as social history, archeology, archeology of architecture, architecture and art history. Of equal importance are the technical and managerial skills, all those related with tasks related to the TICs, including the design, development and maintenance of the database on the one hand, and responsabilities like project communication, management and dissemination of activities and results. Up to now, the working group consists of 14 people, two of whom are civil servant research personnel from the CSIC: Ana Rodríguez (PI) and Therese Martin, Sandro Carocci and Alessandra Molinari, senior researchers, are professors at the Università di Roma Tor Vergata. The rest of the team are professionals hired for the project: six post-doctoral researchers (three contracts in the CSIC, three in the Università di Roma Tor Vergata), 2 PhD students developing specific research areas at the CSIC, a GIS- sofware development technician and a project assistant, all engaged by the Host Institution-CSIC.

Once that the work team has been built, the configuration of the technical part of the project finished, the communication tools and protocols developed and the Data Model set up, an analytical phase of the project has started, whose aim is to systematise material evidence through the database. This phase will run in parallel with the first two stages of the interpretative phase that will start in month 20.

A provisional website has been created while the final visor of the GIS extension of the database is being designed and developed. The project also runs a social network (Facebook) account:
The ground-breaking nature of this project is precisely this new vision of social conditions, where the environment of the economic growth of the Romanesque period should be taken as the context but not as the only explanation for the petrification of wealth. We are preparing the beginning of the interpretative phase that will enable us to study the structural link between individual and collective wealth and investment in long-lasting and visually impressive buildings.