Two Italian Archeologists: Biondo & Bandinelli

When looking to learn a bit more about archeologists that hailed from Italy, consider the reputation of Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (1900 , 1975) and the very important Flavio Biondo (1392 , 1463), who was given the title of one of the first archeologists in the world.  

Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (1900 , 1975)

Bandinelli has earned the reputation as a rather influential Italian archaeologist and art historian that lived during the 20th century. His research on Etruscan was an early interest that was fueled by curiosity regarding his family lands at Clusium and Suana. He tended to focus on classical archeology, but whatever he wrote was often scrutinized by others who took into consideration his political beliefs. It seemed that he was met with controversy for some of his thoughts on extreme communism, Hitler, and Mussolini. His outlook would also influence his interpretation of art.

Some of his views and thoughts centered on the links he found between Roman, Etruscan, and Hellenistic art and his students were rather keen on listening to what he had to say. He is known for teaching the likes of Antonio Giuliano, Mario Torelli, and Giovanni Becatti.

Flavio Biondo (1392 , 1463)

When it comes to giving credit to the historian responsible for coming up with the term ‘the Middle Ages’ , this honor goes to Flavio Biondo , an Italian Renaissance humanist historian. Throughout history, you may have also heard of him as becoming known as one of the first archeologists in the world.  

Biondo was born in the capital city of Forli (situated in the Romagna region). At an early age, he received a decent education. While briefly staying in Milan, he uncovered and then transcribed a manuscript of Cicero’s dialogue named ‘Brutus.’ He then decided to relocate to Rome, which took place in 1433. It was here that he started to work on writing. In 1444, he was appointed as secretary to the Cancelleria under Eugene IV. When Eugene was sent in exile in Florence and Ferrara, Biondo followed. After his patron died, Flavio gained employment by successors , Nicholas V, Callixtux III, and Pius II.

In his writings, Flavio published three encyclopedic works on the subject of ruins and topography regarding ancient Rome. These guides were rather well documented and viewed as orderly and informational. These works would earn him the recognition as being one of the first archeologists. Some of the concepts that he founded and spread would spark the minds of future historians to come.

It was the persistence and exploration of Biondo that would jumpstart the recognition that Rome received in the past. They sifted through the ruins of ancient Rome to uncover great history, as the land was overgrown with greenery that supported the diet of local cows. The vegetation was pretty hard to get through at the time. However, Flavio was successful in documenting what he saw in the region , paying special attention to the architecture, topography, and history of Rome.

Biondo’s first work was titled “De Roma instaurata” (“Rome Restored,” 3 vols, 1444-1446), which aimed to reconstruct the topography of ancient Rome. To this day, it is one of the most influential works that people look towards when they want a glimpse at what Rome used to look like.