What changes in the seventeenth century medical practices, anatomy and surgery is very important to better understand the meaning of the scientific revolution. Opened to external forces of change, the birth of comparative anatomy, the statement of the anatomical dissections as crucial experience in the education of physicians, the claiming of medicine as ars medendi with an epistemological status of its own, and the role of surgery as science represent something more than a marginal activity unrelated to current social and intellectual phenomena.
The project has a solid foundation in the will of discovering and valuing the strength of Southern Italy in the field of scientific culture and its contribution to the construction of the modern European society. It aims to introduce a breakthrough in models of combining science advancement and society challenges throughout the proper use of advanced technologies, arts, philosophy and economics, in a multidisciplinary level and multi-perspective horizon.

Some of the most important changes in the fields of medicine, anatomy and surgery in the early modern Europe represent a turning point in the history of sciences. The rebirth of natural philosophy in the Renaissance and seventeenth century is directly related to the innovations, discoveries, debates and scientific correspondence that contributed to the advancement of anatomy and medicine as new fields of sciences. While the Republic of Letters participated to spread the new scientific and philosophical ideas from such authors like Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Newton across Europe, a similar trend took place in the field of medicine. The exchange between physicians, surgeons, philosophers, and men of science allowed the emergence and the development of a common body of knowledge. Those disciplines were gradually learned and practiced within universities, schools and social institutions devoted to health care.

In the historical turnaround of early modern science in Southern Italy, Marco Aurelio Severino (Tarsia, November 2nd, 1580 – Naples, July 12th, 1656) is one of the authors who contributed to the transformation of the natural philosophy and the medical and surgical practice. He is considered among the pioneers of the comparative anatomy, and his research activities in the fields of medicine, anatomy and animal physiology, as well in surgery, polarized the attention of physicians and men of science since the early decades of the seventeenth century. His works were read in the most important European universities and in the intellectual milieux flourishing before the foundation of the principal European scientific academies, such as the Accademia del Cimento of Florence, the Royal Society of London, the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris, the Accademia degli Investiganti of Naples.

Severino’s cultural interests went far beyond the medical domain. The scientific literature printed since 1940s about Severino’s life and works has given us a first sketch of his intellectual profile, of his fortune as of the scientific network whereby he had a very rich correspondence: William Harvey, Cassiano dal Pozzo, Thomas Bartholin, George Ent, Fortunio Liceti, Tommaso Campanella, John Houghton, Ole Worm, Johann Vesling, Hermann Conring, and many others.

The spirit of research and shared knowledge of that time is one of the core values of ARTES. The establishment of a Research Centre in Marco Aurelio Severino’s birthplace and in the same household where he grew is the actual outcome that many historians of science, from Luigi Amabile to Walter Pagel, Charles Schmitt, Roger French, Charles Webster, would have wished. The project promoted by ARTES, the Municipality of Tarsia and the University of Calabria, Department of Humanities, with the « Marco Aurelio Severino Foundation », is to continue the work done by now and to both rediscover and spread Severino’s legacy. The international dimension characterised this project, both in term of involvement of the scientific community and in terms of target for dissemination and communication activities.
The project methodology is deeply rooted in the scientific experience of the international studies dealing with/related to the history of early modern science and medicine, which gives to the project a strong social impact as well as a very innovative character.


UNICAL DISU – University of Calabria, Department of Humanities

Municipality of Tarsia

Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”

Consorzio Interuniversitario “Civiltà del Mediterraneo”

Instituto per la storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico, C.N.R. di Napoli

ENS de Lyon – Unité CERPHI

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne



The Marco Aurelio Severino Foundation aims to meet the following objectives:

– The constitution, at Severino household (Largo S. Stefano, Tarsia), of an International Centre for the History of Medicine, Science and Technology, combining a digital library, a material and virtual museum of books and scientific instruments dedicated to the documentation and diffusion of the scientific culture, especially in the field of the medical sciences.

– To make a reassessment of the contribution of early modern physicians and naturalists of Southern Italy to the history of medicine and science across Europe, taking into consideration the historical context where they lived, and their intellectual biographies.

– To highlight the links between the main authors of early modern science and the network of correspondents, readers, translators, printers, engravers, men of letters and amateurs des sciences.


Among the major results expected are:

– To raise awareness at international level, in both the community of specialists and in the broader world of culture, of the role played by physicians and naturalists of Mezzogiorno do Itlay to the development of the history of medicine and science in general in Europe

– To raise the citizens’ awareness of the Marco Aurelio Severino legacy of which to be proud and as lever for the commitment to stand up and act for the progress of the whole community.
Among the specific outcomes are:

– The accomplishment of a comprehensive study about Severino’s intellectual biography and upon the scientific network he was acquainted.

– The digitalization, transcription and critical edition of Severino’s correspondence and of his unpublished writings.

– A thorough study about the history of the schools and the social institutions devoted to the health care in Southern Italy and Europe, focusing on the scientific contribution the Italian physicians gave to the emerging of a European scientific environment in the early modern age.

– The realisation of an incisive awareness raising campaign (temporary exhibitions, scientific awards, press releases, the first edition of a biannual festival for the history of science and technology in Southern Italy), addressed to the broadest audience.

– The publication of the proceedings of biannual international seminars on Marco Aurelio Severino and the History of medicine, science and technology at the dawn of the modern age.
The publication, on official website, of a Newsletter on the history of medicine, science and technology, 16th-18th centuries