Angerio Filangieri archive on Topotheque, an ICARUS lecture

by Francesco Avolio

On April 7th 2022, students of the history sciences of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy took part in an ICARUS lecture (, given by  Antonello Migliozzi, senior researcher of the MUSA (Museum Centre of agriculture sciences,, and introduced by the founder of the Topothek project (, Alexander Schatek.

As a student, I’m very interested in the following aspect of the international platform Topothek and the topotheque of MUSA highlighted during the lesson. This international portal is a functional web ensemble of virtual collections of photographical documents, called Topotheques, which can be used by general public or historians and other sciences experts to admire photographs or archival material, that are normally not available to them due to their private nature, or to design the evolution of a specific area. This lecture took place during the “Paleography and Diplomatics” course, held by Antonella Ambrosio, to promote the digital humanities among the academic students. This text is inspired by the ICARUS lecture and has the purpose of giving some information about the Angerio Filangieri’s project to promote the territorial landscape.

This project, called “The inventory of the historical, artistic, natural heritage in the Campania region”, has created a real archive consisting of over 50,000 items (photos, maps, books, documents) from 1969 to 2003, and was based on the idea that iconographic, topographical, and descriptive knowledge of the heritage would contribute to more informed landscape planning. Through extensive documentation of the natural environment and artworks, over a period of 35 years, the collection has become a unique source of evidence for places in a specific region in southern Italy, Campania, that require protection and enhancement.

These ideas of Angerio Filangieri, an Italian economist (, were extremely innovative for the beginning of the second half of the 20th century. Those principles were, in part, proposed in the “European Landscape Convention”, the first international treaty exclusively dedicated to the European landscape in its entirety, which was held in Florence in 2000 ( So, during all these years, Filangieri’s collection has become a unique resource for the representation and information of some places that need to be valorized and protected. For this purpose, in the contemporary days, a huge archive has found its place also in the web. This has been possible thanks to the MUSA initiative of sharing historical documents, which are otherwise not available to the public, and the collaboration of the Austrian platform Topothek. Now, thanks to this cooperation, the Filangieri’s collection has a Topotheka online


The existence of this digital archive in southern Italy is extremely important because it follows the principle of territory valorization explained during the “Landscape Convention” of Florence, reflecting perfectly the spirit of the founder (Angerio Filangieri) of the archive himself. Thanks to the presence of both MUSA and Topothek within ICARUS (, the international network of archives, the Filangieri’s Topotheka is being promoted through the universities and cultural associations. Surely, if there will be other projects like this one, these will be promoted too: this takes into the world of the DH a relevant expansion. In fact, an important task for the future is to expand the area of interest of the online archives into other countries in Europe, and to collaborate with local initiatives that share the same values and dedication to historical research and territorial heritage promotion.

Also, the MUSA opens the doors to the students of university Federico II in Naples to various forms of curricular internships as well as enriching their postgraduate studies on digital humanities: a subject for definition imbued of interdisciplinary methods, which were, for Angerio Filangieri himself, an important factor to accomplish the task of valorizing and promoting the territorial and cultural landscape. During the creation of Filangieri’s Topotheka itself, some activities took place. These were coordinated by experts of various sectors: prof. Antonella Ambrosio of the DSU (Department of Human Studies), prof. Antonello Migliozzi for the MUSA, Maria Rosaria Falcone (expert in historical documents in the web, president of ICARUS Italia), and Daniel Jeller from ICARUS (technical development responsible for Topotheque). Naturally, the lesson was really stimulating and full of ideas for reflection overall about the interdisciplinary methods with which the topotheques could be created. For an example, one of my favorite areas of research and study: the countless castles of the European territories. Those defensive buildings can be studied by experts in various sectors because of their double nature, as military fortresses and centers of territorial power. An architect (or more of them) can analyze the construction techniques of the castle, a paleographer and a diplomatist can study the documents preserved in the archives (and maybe publish them on Monasterium.Net, ), a geographer and an agrarian expert can help in the morphologic matters, and a history researcher can use all of that knowledge to understand better some aspects of the local society like warfare and military/political institutions. Furthermore, this Topotheque could interact effectively and flexibly with the community residing in the area concerned and with a public of historians. A Topotheque dedicated to a complex cultural object such as a castle could reflect all of those scientific approaches, preserving and disseminating the existing documentation, or the one produced by the research group (and the general public) and tell history of a community from other points of view.