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UN VIAGGIO SCIENTIFICO ALLA METÀ DEL SECOLO XVIII. INVENTARIO DEL CARTEGGIO INTORNO AL VIAGGIO IN LEVANTE DI VITALIANO DONATI1

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<title> SUMMARY </title>The voyage to the Near and Far East that king Carlo Emanuele III of Savoy entrusted professor Vitaliano Donati in 1759, represents one of the first and most important scientific and economic missions conducted during the Enlightenment in Italy. The Memoria Istruttiva, containing a description of the tasks to be performed in the countries visited, already published in a previous issue of this Journal, is a document of prime importance, as is also the Giomale di VIAGGIO (travel journal). Long investigations in the Court Archives of the Kingdom of Sardinia, however, have uncovered over 450 letters written by expedition members, their local correspondents, foreign legacies, involved ministries, and a host of minor actors, which have been now critically reordered and inventoried. This corpus, now practically completed, gives an unexpected perspective to this scientific expedition, revealing the complex scenarios involved. Though the mission terminated abruptly with the death of professor Donati in 1762 in the Indian Ocean, the analysis of these written documents, never reorganised before, shows important aspects that often, and erroneously, appear secondary in a scientific enterprise. The role of diplomatic relations, personal affairs and intrigues involving the participants, the search for financial support, and difficulties deriving from the different mentalities and cultures, reveal a "dark side" that usually never appears in the official reports. The political and diplomatic world centred around the Mediterranean Sea in those years appears in its involvement; the epistolary exchange around the return home of Donati's personal goods collected by priests of the Vatican legacy in Goa, shows the structure of the diplomatic and economic network ranging from Levant to the Mediterranean.

Affiliations: 1: Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e il Paesaggio del Piemonte, Torino

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/content/journals/10.1163/182539103x00107
2003-01-01
2017-09-25

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