Domenico Cirillo’s Collections

A Recently Rediscovered 18th-Century Neapolitan Herbarium

In: Nuncius
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  • 1 Musei delle Scienze Agrarie, MUSA, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico
  • | 2 Musei delle Scienze Agrarie, MUSA, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico
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The herbarium of the 19th-century Neapolitan botanists Vincenzo and Francesco Briganti was acquired by Orazio Comes in 1892 for the Royal Higher School of Agriculture in Naples. Based on a study of the handwriting on their labels, Comes concluded that some of the dried specimens were the sole remains of the herbarium of Domenico Cirillo, the distinguished 18th-century Neapolitan botanist, entomologist and physician. The current arrangement of the specimens not uniform and it is clear that they underwent extensive handling and rearrangement. Some of the exsiccata are preserved in two packets, fixed on sheets bearing a printed label that reads “Herbarium D. Cyrilli”. In an additional label Gaetano Nicodemi’s handwriting and not Cirillo’s as stated by Comes was identified. Other specimens, many of them mounted in a different manner from those in the first group, are arranged in another three packets.

Certain characteristics of the herbarium may be explained by the vicissitudes of its history, including a hasty salvage operation. A study of the collection was conducted, including an analysis of the handwritten labels and notes, leading to conclusions that shed light on the significance of the Cirillo collection within the historical and scientific context of 18th-century Naples.

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