BABELROME. Babel - Rome. The nature of the world and its languages in sixteenth-century Rome

  • Section: Modern and contemporary periods
  • Director: Elisa Andretta, Researcher, CNRS-LARHRA, Lyon; Antonella Romano, Director of studies, EHESS-Center Alexandre Koyré Paris, and Director of the Center Alexandre Koyré.


This research project approaches its subject through the viewpoint of a global history of knowledge. Taking 16th-century Rome as its epicentre, it focuses on the analysis of scholars and normal people involved in the transformation of the Urbs in the city world. It assumes that, in the 16th century, the expansion of the world in its four parts, for Europeans, meant that the Papal States needed to create a new programme in order to better understand the world and provide a means of renewing its universal magisterium. The project aims to question this programme through an original perspective: expressions of knowledge about nature and knowledge about languages ​​which, in Rome, often share the same places of development, the same actors, the same intellectual tools. We consider these structures as a specific marker of the Roman contribution to the multiple European processes of encompassing the world, which leads us to focus on the specific links which were woven between Rome and the Iberian world. 

The research envisaged is at the crossroads between different historiographies (history of science and knowledge, history of scholarship, diplomatic history) that are being revisited. The research is therefore based on two working hypotheses: Rome could be the subject of a global history survey; the programme implemented by the pontifical power and its various organs to account for an expanding world has scientific and philosophical implications which justify, for the historian, the move from an investigation into the history of religion to the history of knowledge.  

The programme is based on different lines of research being developed by an international team, made up of colleagues from different historiographical traditions.

The project aims to produce an original scientific contribution about Rome and how knowledge was constructed in the world of the 16th century.


Babel Rome brings together 15 researchers: Olivia Adankpo-Labadie, Antonio Andrade, Elisa Andretta, Jean-Marc Besse, Michela Bussotti, Mario Casari, Romain Descendre, Ariana D'Ottone, Aurélien Girard, Oury Goldman, Rafael Mandressi, José Pardo Tomas, Giovanni Pizzorusso, Antonella Romano, Maria Antonietta Visceglia.

They represent 10 French and foreign institutions: CAK, LARHRA, UMR 8504 Géographie-Cité, EFEO, Triangle-ENS Lyon, University of Reims; Sapienza-Università di Roma, Università di Chieti, IMF-CSIC, Universidade de Aveiro. 

The project is mainly funded by the École française de Rome, the A. Koyré Center and LARHRA. One-off financial contributions will be provided by the Sapienza-Università di Roma and by the University of Reims from 2018.

Page translated from French, 2020/12/11

Laboratoire International Associé (LIA)