A pair of coconut-shell goblets
Object of the Month
Tucked inside a chest in this 1295 inventory were two extremely unusual objects: "Two Indian nuts for drinking, with silver feet." Next to it, the inventory records a third coconut shell, as-yet unworked, waiting its own turn to become a goblet. A number of coconut-shell goblets from Europe's past survive today in museum collections and antiquary shops, though few date from the thirteenth century, making this one of the earliest attested objects of this type. No coconut goblets are attested...
Inside a 14th-century fabric shop
Inventory of the Month
When wool merchant Giovanni di Feo died in late 1390, he left all his worldly assets to his son and heir, Feo. These included items from his multi-room home in Florence, from a smaller house with a garden located in the village of Santa Margherita a Montici, and from his cloth shop, located in the neighborhood of San Martino.The shop’s inventory contained a long list of textiles of different colors and values, as well as tools of the cloth trade. Among them, we find many fabrics of paonazzo...
Enslaved persons in late 14th-century Florence
In theory, estate inventories recorded everything of value in the estate of a decedent. To modern readers, one of the most unsettling features of premodern inventories can be found in the references to enslaved persons. Entries identifying enslaved persons as property are a commonplace in inventories from the colonial United States, where they are often listed at the beginning of the inventory, occasionally alongside the livestock. We also find them in inventories from Mediterranean Europe,...READ MORE
ALME is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary project that seeks to increase our understanding of Europe’s material horizons during the later Middle Ages, an era when changing patterns of production and consumption altered the material world and transformed the relationship between people and things.
DALME has developed a novel methodology that focuses on the extraction of information about material culture from documentary sources, such as household or estate inventories, in a manner that makes it possible to seamlessly integrate textual objects with their tangible counterparts from archaeological excavations and museum collections.
Drawing upon cross-disciplinary practice and advances in digital scholarship, the project aims to make vast amounts of material culture accessible online as open, well-structured and machine-actionable datasets readily amenable to computational analysis, together with the necessary tools, standards, and documentation to enable new research and facilitate dissemination.
Based in the Department of History at Harvard University, DALME brings together a growing network of researchers from institutions across the US and Europe.
We are grateful to the following organizations for supporting the project.