Heritage and forgery: Annio da Viterbo and the quest for the authentic
Author: Temple, Nick
Source: Public Archaeology, Number 3, 2002 , pp. 151-162(12)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:This paper examines the role of forgery in constructs of heritage from the Renaissance to modernity. It focuses on the work of the 15th-century Dominican Annius of Viterbo, and explores the impact of these constructs on the symbolism of topography in Rome and elsewhere. It argues that during the Renaissance forgery was not always conceived as a dishonest act but sometimes as a necessary process to disclose a higher providential order. This order, that centred on faith in divine grace, constituted a religious and cultural tradition that was all-pervasive and open to renewal. Rather than undermining this tradition forgery was paradoxically put to the service of its disclosure. Denied such an assumed tradition the modern view of forgery is understood in essentially instrumental terms, as pure fabrication and re-invention. The paper argues that Annius's approach to forgery provides an intriguing example of how historiographical enquiry was seen as virtually coterminous with creative and imaginative thought. It suggests that the changing relation between concepts of forgery and heritage in history is symptomatic of a more general transformation from a mytho-historic world-view to historiographical objectivity.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2002