How Cyriacus of Ancona—merchant, spy, and amateur classicist—traveled the world, fighting to save ancient monuments for posterity.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, a young Italian bookkeeper fell under the spell of the classical past. Despite his limited education, the Greeks and Romans seemed to speak directly to him—not from books but from the physical ruins and inscriptions that lay neglected around the shores of the Mediterranean.As an international merchant, Cyriacus of Ancona was accustomed to the perils of travel in foreign lands—unlike his more scholarly peers with their handsome libraries and wealthy patrons, who benefited greatly from the discoveries communicated in his widely distributed letters and drawings. Having seen firsthand the destruction of the world’s cultural heritage, Cyriacus resolved to preserve it for future generations. To do so he would spy on the Ottomans, court popes and emperors, and even organize a crusade.Some images in the ebook are not displayed owing to permissions issues.
Cyriacus Pizzecolli of Ancona was the first to travel solely to discover, observe and analyze historic monuments and, Belozerskaya convincingly argues in this charming and intriguing book, a key figure in the birth of archeology. A clerk in the bustling Renaissance port city, Pizzecolli's business trips took him to Greece and Asia Minor. He was unrelentingly curious and restless and while fascination with classical texts was widespread in the mid-15th century, few investigated the ancient physical remains. Pizzecolli educated himself in classical civilization in order to understand and preserve thousands of artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome, his true profession being, according to Cyriacus himself, "to wake the dead" of antiquity. Art historian Belozerskaya (The Medici Giraffe) writes with verve and aplomb, transporting us to 15th-century Rome, Constantinople, Florence, Greece and its islands, where he made sketches of antiquities later used by Raphael and da Vinci. Belozerskaya has written a well-researched history of an important yet relatively unknown figure that deftly integrates Renaissance social, cultural and political history. 25 illus.