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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Renato Bartoccini

Dates:  1893, 25 August - 1963, 9 October
Born:  Italy, Rome
Died:  Italy, Rome
Active:  Egypt / Jordan / Palestine / Greece / Italy
Renato Bartoccini was born in Rome, on 25 August 1893. He studied at the Rome University and earned his degree in Archaeology in 1917. In 1920 he began archaeological researches in Egypt, when he was in charge of the study of a number of Islamic monuments near Cairo. In the same year, he was appointed supervisor of the Superintendency for Antiquities in Lybian Tripolitania, at that time an Italian colony. He served as Superintendent between 1923 and 1928, carrying on excavations in Sabrata and Leptis. He returned to Italy in 1928, working initially in Ravenna and then, from 1933 onwards, in Apulia as director of the Archaeological Museum of Taranto and then as Superintendent of Antiquities for the entire region. Between 1928 and 1938, he also directed the first Italian archaeological expedition to the Near East, i.e. the expedition to Transjordan, carrying out the first excavations on the Amman Citadel and a complete survey of Petra. In 1940 Italy entered World War II, and Bartoccini was appointed Superintendent of Antiquities in Rhodes, where he performed excavation and protection works in Lindos and Kameiros. In 1941 he returned to Italy and was posted at the Superintendency of Lombardy, before being recruited once again in the Army. After 8 September 1943 and the armistice signed by the Italians, Bartoccini endorsed the Italian Social Republic, also known as the Republic of Salò, and worked mainly to protect artworks from war damage. Due to his participation in the Republic of Salò, he was tried in 1946, but was released in 1948. After the war, Bartoccini closed his career in Rome, where he was appointed Superintendent for Southern Etruria in 1950. He retired in 1960. He died in Rome on 9 October 1963.
There are lights and shadows in Bartoccini’s archaeological career. Especially in North Africa and Transjordan, he was more engaged in intelligence activities than in the archaeological research. However, he was a very good photographer of monuments, and he paid a great attention to develop an accurate method for documenting the archaeological excavations in progress. In Transjordan, according to the notes left by Bartoccini himself: “… the excavation work has been recorded in 50 drawings by the architects Ceschi and Schettini, as well as over 500 photos. We also performed surveys on 4000 km of hard desert tracks, two trips through Palestina and three in Syria, up to Palmyra. During these travels, the Mission took more than 2000 photos...” Unfortunately, he published only a small selection of his photos. However, the prints of most of them are today held at the University of Perugia and at the University of Macerata. His archive concerning the expedition to Transjordan has been recently catalogued and published, and it made it possible to understand, after almost a century, the appearance of Amman, Petra and other Jordan sites at the time of their first archaeological surveys and excavations. It is to hope that also the rest of his documentation will soon be made available and published.
Stefano Anastasio & Lucia Botarelli, 2015, The 1927–1938 Italian Archaeological Expedition to Transjordan in Renato Bartoccini’s Archives, (Oxford, Archaeopress)
Renato Bartoccini, 1941, "Un decennio di ricerche e di scavi italiani in Transgiordania", Bollettino del R. Istituto di archeologia e storia dell’arte, vol. IX/1-6, pp. 75-81.
Source of information
Dr. Stefano Anastasio
Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio - Firenze
Piazza Pitti 1 - 50125 Firenze
Tel. 055 2651885

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Renato Bartoccini with the photo camera at Amman 
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