Dr Simona Valeriani


  • Dr Simona Valeriani
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Senior Tutor (V&A)

  • Dr Valeriani is an historian of architecture and a building archaeologist. She has undertaken research on German and British architecture from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, and on the history of carpentry. 

    Her recent work has concentrated on the role played by artefacts and physical spaces in the creation of knowledge in the early modern period, where she has developed specific expertise in the history of 3D modelling.

    She joined the V&A/RCA History of Design programme in 2012, having worked for several years in the Economic History Department at the London School of Economics. There, she worked on two projects: ‘How Well Do Facts Travel?’ (funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the ESRC) and ‘Useful and reliable Knowledge in the East and the West’ (funded by the European Research Council), where she widened her intellectual horizons, both disciplinary and geographically, acquiring experience in the field of global history and developing further her interest in the history of technology.

  • Biography

  • After graduating in Architecture and attending the first year of the Scuola di Specializzazione in Restauro dei Monumenti at the University of Genoa (Italy), Dr Valeriani was awarded a grant by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft to pursue a PhD programme in History of Art, Building Archaeology and Theory of Conservation (TU Berlin-University of Bamberg). During this period she developed further her expertise in the field of building archaeology and participated in collaborative, interdisciplinary projects. Her PhD thesis provided the first historical overview of carpentry technologies in Rome from late antiquity to the eighteenth century, and includes findings from fieldwork that she conducted in a number of Basilicas of Early Christian origin. It was published as a monograph, Kirchendächer in Rom- Capriate Ecclesiae,  in 2006. 

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Exhibitions 
    Matters of Thoughts: Models and Knowledge-production in the Early Royal Society, The Royal Society, 13 September– 13 November 2013.


    Valeriani, S., In-between Knowledge. Artifacts and Places in the production of Useful and reliable knowledge in Europe 15th-18th century [monograph in preparation; interest has been expressed by Cambridge University Press]

    Valeriani, S. and Wendler, R. (eds) (2015) Models Beyond Representation: Knowledge, Creativity, Disobedience, in the series: Berlin Studies in Knowledge Research [forthcoming]

    Valeriani, S. (2006) Kirchendächer in Rom - Capriate Ecclesiae, Berliner Beiträge zur Bauforschung und Denkmalpflege III, Petersberg: Imhof Verlag 

    Special issues of journals (edited)

    Valeriani, S. and Schaefer, D. (eds) The History of Technology in Global Perspective, Special Issue: Technology and Culture [in preparation]

    Valeriani, S., Davids, K. and Ian Inkster, I. (eds) (2011) Conceptualising the Production and Diffusion of Useful and Reliable Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Special Issue: History of Technology, 31

    Journal articles

    Valeriani, S.  and Ishizu, M. ‘The Diffusion of Useful and Reliable Knowledge over the centuries of the Great Divergence: Comparative Case Study of Urban Water Supply in Early Modern England and Tokugawa Japan’, Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung [forthcoming]

    Valeriani, S. (2015) ‘“Lovers, Gentlemen and learned men’. Architecture and knowledge in 16th-and 17th-century England, in Prospectus— The Varied Role of the Amateur in Early Modern Europe”’, Special Issue: Nuncius, ed. by  V. Keller und L. Skogh [forthcoming]

    Valeriani, S. (2012) ‘Three-dimensional Models as “in-between-objects” – the creation of in-between knowledge in early modern architectural practice’, History of Technology, 31, 5–25

    Valeriani, S. (2008) ‘“In the ancient forme”.  On the reception and ‘invention’ of ancient building techniques in Early Modern Times’, Special Issue: Hephaistos. New approaches in Classical Archaeology and related Fields, 26, 169–88

    Valeriani, S. (2008) ‘Behind the Façade: Elias Holl and the Italian influence on building techniques in Augsburg’, architectura, 38: 2, 97–108

    Valeriani, S. (2005) ‘S.  Cecilia  in  Trastevere  und  die  Geschichte  der  Kirchendächer  in  Rom’, architectura, 35: 1, 32–46

    Valeriani, S. (1999) ‘La Bauforschung a Lubecca: metodi di datazione’, Archeologia dell'architettura, 4, 83–92

    Valeriani, S. (1998) ‘Studio storico-archeologico sull'edilizia mercantile medievale delle città anseatiche’, Archeologia dell'Architettura, 3, 109–23 

    Book chapters

    Valeriani, S. (2016) ‘The making of useful knowledge in Europe 1400–1800’, in: P. O’Brien (ed.), Useful and reliable Knowledge in the East and the West, series: Studies in Comparative Word History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [forthcoming 2016]

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2015) ‘Useful  and  Reliable  Knowledge  in  Early  Modern  Japan  and  Europe:  Parallel Developments  and Transformations in the Accumulation of Botanical Knowledge’, in: Susanne Friedrich, Stefan Ehrenpreis and Arndt Brendecke (eds), Transformation  of  Knowledge  in   Dutch  Expansion, Berlin and New York: De Gruyter [forthcoming: in press]

    Valeriani, S. (2012) ‘Floors and ceilings in early Christian basilicas in Rome’, in: R. Gargiani (ed.), Architraves et pouters, Lausanne : EPFL Press, pp.128–35

    Valeriani, S. (2011) ‘Facts and Building Artefacts: What Travels in Material Objects?’, in: P. Howlett and M. Morgan (eds), How Well Do Facts Travel?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.43–71

    Valeriani, S. (2006) ‘I Metodi dell'archeologia dell'architettura applicati allo studio delle coperture lignee di alcune basiliche a Roma’, in: N. Cucuzza and M. Medri (eds), Archeologie. Scritti in onore di Tiziano Mannoni, Bari: Edipuglia, pp. 519–22 

    Valeriani, S., Fechter, S., Rogaci-Tiemann, B., Schöfbeck, T. and Zajonz, M. (2003) ‘Die Kulturlandschaft des Klosters Schulpforta’, in: A. Hubel and J. Cramer (eds), Forschungen zum Kloster Schulpforta - Ergebnisse  eines Arbeitsprojektes im Rahmen des Graduiertenkollegs Kunstwissenschaft,  Bauforschung,  Denkmalpflege, Halle  an  der  Saale: Stekovics, vol. 1, pp. 11–26 

    Published conference proceedings

    Valeriani, S. (2015) ‘Sir Christopher Wren’s Architectural Endeavors: Models as “in-between-knowledge”’, in: Proceedings of the 47. Tagung für Ausgrabungswissenschaft und Bauforschung der Koldewey Gesellschaft, Trier , 16. -20. Mai 2012 [forthcoming] 

    Valeriani, S. (2015) ‘Modeling architecture in 17th-century England: a discourse and a practice’, in: Proceedings for the conference: The Model, a Tool in the Architectural Project, Ecole de Chaillot, Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine [forthcoming]

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2011) ‘Knowledge Diffusion and the Learning of Practical Science: case studies of early modern Europe and Japan’, in: Proceedings of the 4th Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, Barcelona, 18-20 November 2010, Societat Catalana d‘Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica (SCHCT). Digital publication available here.

    Valeriani, S. (2010) ‘“Ingenious gentlemen abroad”: Roger Pratt and the influence of the educational traveller in Britain’, in: Akten der 45.  Tagung  für  Ausgrabungswissenschaft und Bauforschung, Dresden: Koldewey Gesellschaft, Thelen Verlag, pp. 127–35

    Valeriani, S. (2005) ‘La trasmissione delle conoscenze nell’Europa del XVII e XVIII sec.: il caso delle strutture di copertura’, in:  Proceedings of  the  international seminar  Theory  and practice  about   construction:   knowledge,  instruments,  models,  Ravenna,  27–29. October 2005, vol. II, pp. 895–903

    Valeriani, S. (2005) ‘Le strutture di copertura nei trattati e nei manoscritti rinascimentali’, in: S. Huerta (ed.), Actas del  Cuarto Congreso Nacional de Historia de la Construcción, Cadiz, January 2005 (Madrid: Istituto Juan de Herrera, 2005), vol. 2, pp.1039–49

    Valeriani, S. (2005) ‘Historic Carpentry in Rome’, in:  S.  Huerta  (ed.), Proceedings of the First International Congress on Construction History, Madrid, 20-24 January 2003, Madrid: Instituto Juan de Herrera, Escuela Técnica superior de Arquitectura, vol. 3, pp. 2023–34

    Valeriani, S. and Pittaluga, D. (2003) ‘Chronologie der Backsteinmaße: Eine Möglichkeit zur Datierung von Bauten in spezifischen geografischen Bereichen’, in: Greifswalder Backsteinkolloquium – Neue   Forschungen  zur   Backsteinarchitektur  in   mittleren Europa, 16–18  April  1998, Greifswald, Studien zur  Backsteinarchitektur, Berlin, vol. 3, pp. 370–87

    Valeriani, S., Brandenburg, H., and Cramer, J. (2002) ‘Indagini architettoniche e dendrocronologiche sui tetti delle  chiese paleocristiane di Roma: Il metodo e i primi risultati del progetto congiunto della  Technische Universität di Berlino e della Westfälische Wilhelms - Universität di Münster, Germania, con la partecipazione dell'Università della Tuscia, Viterbo. Ricerche novembre 1999 -  dicembre 2000’, in: F. Guidobaldi and A. Guiglia Guidobaldi (eds), Ecclaesiae Urbis, Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sulle chiese di Roma IV-X sec., Roma, Pontificio Istituto di  Archeologia Cristiana, 4-10.9.2000, Vatican City: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia cristiana, pp. 183–212

    Valeriani, S.  and Bandini, F. (2001) ‘La  carta  del  patrimonio  architettonico,  archeologico  e  storico ambientale della Regione Liguria’, in: M. Guermandi (ed.), Rischio archeologico: se lo conosci lo eviti, Atti del Convegno di studi su Cartografia archeologica e tutela del territorio, Ferrara, 24.-25. März 2000, Florence: All'insegna del giglio, pp. 40–5

    Valeriani, S., Mannoni, T., and Bandini, F. (2001) ‘Dall'archeologia  globale  del  territorio  alla  carta archeologica  numerica’, in: R. Francovich, A. Pellicanò and M. Pasquinucci (eds), La carta archeologica fra ricerca e pianificazione territoriale. Atti del Seminario di studi organizzato dalla Regione Toscana, Dipartimento delle politiche formative e dei beni culturali, Firenze 6-7 Maggio, 1999, Florence: All'insegna del giglio, pp.43–8

    Valeriani, S., Mannoni, T., and Bandini, F. (2000) ‘La carta del patrimonio architettonico, archeologico e storico ambientale: uno strumento di conoscenza del pregio culturale dei siti’, in: Atti del Workshop  "Compatibilità ambientale e opportunità di sviluppo: il ruolo della conoscenza  ambientale.  Il   progetto  Ecozero,  Genova,  14-15.12.2000, Genova: Regione Liguria, pp.119–25

    Working papers

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2011) Diffusion of useful and reliable knowledge in global histories; a case study of intellectual intercourse between Holland and Japan in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, URKEW Discussion Papers, nr 6, LSE. Available here.

    Valeriani, S. (2006) The Roofs of Wren and Jones: A Seventeenth-century Migration of Technical Knowledge from Italy to England, Working Papers on The Nature of Evidence: How Well Do ‘Facts’ Travel?, 14/06, LSE, Department of Economic History. Available here.
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Research interests

Dr Simona Valeriani’s research concentrates on the ways in which knowledge was created, ‘stored’ and transmitted in early modern Europe. She is currently writing a book, which will bring together the results of her research at the London School of Economics on the Leverhulme/ESRC funded project ‘How Well Do Facts Travel?’ and on the European Research council funded project ‘Useful and Reliable Knowledge in the East and the West’ (URKEW).

A variety of aspects are considered in relation to this theme: teaching and learning (pedagogical trends and curricula), encyclopedias and compendia, prizes and patent systems, scientific wish lists, among other considerations, but special emphasis is given to the role played by artifacts and physical spaces in these processes. A focus of her research in recent years has been on objects as vehicles for the transmission of facts through space and time, as well as on the role they play in the construction of our identity. She has published work on the function of objects such as models, instruments and maps in mediating between different epistemic cultures (e.g. the crafts and more formal, ‘academic’ knowledge) in the early modern period. She also devotes much thought to 3D models, mostly architectural, and more generally on 3D representations and their functions.

Another facet of her research deals with the changing understanding of what was considered useful knowledge between the late Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution. Within this framework she is interested in the changing social and epistemic position of the mechanical arts.

Dr Valeriani’s case studies are often related to the field of architecture and building. She has undertaken research on German and British architecture in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, on the history of carpentry and has developed an interest in the construction of infrastructures such as water management. This links to her work on the history of the European city from the medieval period onwards and with her experience in the field of urban conservation. She consolidated the latter in Germany, where she was involved in the historical mapping of medieval Hanseatic cities and in the development of urban conservation plans.

Through her involvement in the URKEW project she became acquainted with and engaged in global history. Despite being a Europeanist, Dr Valeriani is curious about other cultures and has undertaken collaborative work with colleagues whose expertise centres on China, India, the Middle East and Japan.

More information about Simona Valeriani's most recent research activities can be found here.


Research students