Rethinking the Bay of Naples

The Bay of Naples is and remains one of the most significant concentrations of culture and intellectual energy in Europe, and one which remained a node of interaction for the Mediterranean.

Brought sharply into prominence by the arrival of Greek colonists in the seventh century BC, Naples itself retained a degree of cosmopolitan Greekness, and its bay became a haven for Romans seeking a life of pleasure and release from the capital city’s pressure. A vital and vigorous urban culture developed, and is uniquely preserved at Pompeii, and other sites interred by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

One such site, Herculaneum, has been intensively studied at the BSR under the aegis of the Herculaneum Conservation Project.

Precocious in its religious architecture and art, and regularly changing hands from one suzerain to another, Naples sustained and preserves in art and architecture a stunningly varied and fascinating cultural legacy, and is one of the world’s greatest centres for the Baroque.

It was also a remarkably important centre for the development of Enlightenment thought; less constrained by the power of the Church at Rome, it was home to some of the greatest thinkers of that period.

This cultural and intellectual capital has always been in tension with the contradictions of modern Italy. Poverty, crime, immigration and the tension between local and familial loyalties, on the one hand, and a relatively weak state, on the other, make Naples a case study for the complexity of urban life. Moreover, the waves of immigrants from, and representations of, Naples have shaped our perception of Italy in the wider world.

Carving modernity in the shadow of such deep history remains Naples’ enduring challenge.

Award-Holders since 2008

Duncan Keenan-Jones (Macquarie): The Aqua Augusta. Regional water supply in Roman and late antique Campania: an historical and archaeometrical study
Ann Liebeck (Oxford): Anna de Amicis, Antonia Bernasconi, Lucrezia Agujari and Caterina Gabrielli, their influence on changing vocal technique in works for soprano by Mozart, through the operas of Jommelli, Traetta and the Neapolitan School
John Robertson (Oxford): Sacred history and enlightenment history: Rome and Naples 1650–1750
Felix Waldmann Antonio Genovesi, the ‘scuola genovesiana’ and moral philosophy in the kingdom of Naples (Cambridge)

Selected Publications

Maureen CARROLL (Balsdon Fellow 2007–8) Exploring the sanctuary of Venus and its sacred grove: politics, cult and identity in Roman Pompeii. Papers of the British School at Rome 78 (2010): 63–106.
Andrew WALLACE-HADRILL (Director, 1995-2009) Herculaneum: past and future. (London: Frances Lincoln, 2011)
Jaye MCKENZIE-CLARK (Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar 2007–8) Vesuvian Sigillata at Pompeii (Archaeological Monographs of the British School at Rome 20) (British School at Rome, 2012).