European discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. Inauguration of one of the exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project!

After more than two years of hard work, one of three transmedia exhibitions planned in the scope of the European Digital Treasures project will be open in Lisbon under the title European Discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. The event will take place at Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, on 22nd of July 2021.

Nautical chart, Fernão Vaz Dourado

The idea of “discovery” – of exploring the unknown, of finding and trying new things, of creating new objects and artefacts, from innovative to conventional challenges – has been a constant in human and European history.

Over the centuries, its pursuit has united lands and peoples of various European nations in common endeavours. The story of the development of science and technological progress is truly a chapter of international cooperation in the history of Europe.

As the documents in this exhibition so clearly show, discoveries happened in Europe in the most diverse contexts, involving people from many different countries, in all historical periods: from isolated individual ventures to collective and even national undertakings; from the silence and comfort of a library to the controlled chaos of a construction site or a mine; from princely courts to artisans’ workshops. The protagonists and agents of these discoveries were a cross-section of European society. One finds famous intellectuals and anonymous craftsmen; highly skilled academics and almost illiterate sailors; aristocrats and workers, people from all countries and all levels of society.

While some of these documents refer to famous episodes and people who have become famous, others relate to stories that are much less known and almost forgotten. The variety of types of documents in this exhibition also confirms the variety of themes and contexts in which the desire to discover was exercised. One can find letters, books, photographs, X-ray images, drawings, manuscripts, printed leaflets, maps, reports, patent applications and much more, from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century.

Preserving the memory of the world of discoveries and inventions, of scientific progress and technological advances, is to protect one of the most characteristic elements of European identity and heritage.

The exhibition is organised around three pillars:

  • 1 – Medicine
  • 2 – Energy and Industry
  • 3 – Transport and Navigation
Letters, consultations and more works of Alexandre de Gusmão: The aerostatic machine of Father Bartolomeu de Guerreiro
PT/TT/MSLIV/1011

The visitors can interact with:

  • 9 original documents from Torre do Tombo
  • 34 digital reproductions of documents from eight countries distributed by interactive exhibitors
  • 3 documents that allow the visitors to experience augmented reality technology
  • 3 video games
  • 2 videos presenting the project and its merchandising products

The National Archive of Torre do Tombo is a central state archive of national scope. It holds a diverse universe of archival heritage, including original documents from the 9th century to the present day, in a wide variety  of media, fulfilling its main mission to safeguard, enhance and disseminate this heritage.

The building of Torre do Tombo

Torre do Tombo is one of Portugal’s oldest institutions. Since its installation in one of the towers of S. Jorge Castle in Lisbon, in the 14th century, until 1755, it served as the Archives of the king, his vassals, the administration of the kingdom and overseas possessions, also keeping the documents resulting from relations with other kingdoms.

On 1st November 1755, the tower collapsed during an earthquake. The documentation was collected from the rubble and temporarily kept in a wooden hut. On 26th and 27th of August 1757, it was transferred to the São Bento da Saúde Monastery located in the west of the city.

Inside Torre do Tombo


In 1990 the archive was transferred again, this time to a new building, built from scratch to house the National Archive, located on the perimeter of the university city of Lisbon and classified as national heritage since 2012. With a floor area of 54 235m2, it has seven floors, four of which are for storerooms that house 140 linear km of shelving. From around 35 linear km of documentation when it was transferred  to the new building, it has now reached the present day with around 100 linear km.

It is therefore in this magnificent building guarded by its 8 majestic gargoyles that the European Digital Treasures project will take place!

Written by DSIEQ/DGLAB

The EDT-Exhibition Welcome Video

Starting from the end of June 2021 in Barcelona the three transmedia exhibitions start all over Europe and will last till October 2022. The basic idea of the project team was to welcome visitors to the individual exhibitions by means of a short video clip and to present and summarise the exhibition concept as it were in a nutshell. This video will greet visitors during the exhibitions on TV screens mounted overhead and, as it were, convey a first impression.

On the one hand, the participating institutions are presented, which make the exhibited documents available; on the other hand, a selection of documents that is as diverse as possible symbolises each individual thematic focus of the exhibition (The Making of Europe – Exile, Migration Flows and Solidarity – European Inventions and Discoveries). Each participating institution is represented by three documents, with each document explained with a short title and dating. In addition, the welcome video also provides an overview of the timetable of the exhibitions in the different countries.

To meet the needs of local visitors, no less than seven language versions of the video have been produced, namely in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Maltese, Hungarian and German.

In addition to the above-mentioned area of application, it is also planned to use this video, accompanied by a background melody, as a general presentation medium for the EDT project, a kind of business card for the project.

Written by Dr. Karl HEINZ, MAS,
Science & Strategy
ICARUS – International Centre for Archival Research

The merchandise products: Plan of a machine to raise fresh water from the river to the Alcazar of Toledo and supply the city

Continuing with our series of presentations of the merchandise products, we want to show you the bottle of water inspired by the document “Plan of a machine to raise fresh water from the river to the Alcazar of Toledo and supply the city” 1561 – Simancas General Archive (Spain) that will be part of the exhibition “European Discoveries: From the New World to New Technologies” in the framework of the European Digital Treasures project.

Commissioned by the Spanish State Archives, the designer Ángel Merlo was in charge of creating this product.

Historical background

Plan of a machine to raise fresh water from the river to the Alcazar of Toledo. 1561. General Archive of Simancas (Spain)

Giovanni Turriano, born in Italy in 1500, was a mathematician, astronomer, inventor, watchmaker and engineer. He began his career as a watchmaker in Milan. Later he began working at the service of Emperor Carlos V. And then he began working as a civil engineer paid by the monarchy. In 1565 he was hired to build an engine to supply the Alcázar of Toledo with fresh water from the nearby Tajo river. He succeeded in building it in three years, and it was done so well that he was hired to build another one. The machine was at the time the highest water elevator in the world, providing Toledo with 17 cubic meters of water a day raised from 100 m below.

Inspiration

Glass bottle, Spain. Designer: Ángel Merlo

The Spanish designer Ángel Merlo took the drawing on this record as an inspiration to create a product for domestic or sport use. The bottle is made of glass and stainless steel with circular screen printing in black around it, protected with a softshell sleeve personalised with the Digital Treasures logo. The description and data of the product are printed on the label.

In the designer’s own words: “The document prompted me to create a product related to the transportation of water, but more modern and simple. I chose to make a bottle because I wanted it to be a practical item to use on a daily basis and thus give more visibility to the European Digital Treasures “brand”. Besides, it had to be a viable product, not very expensive to produce. Then I looked for the appropriate glass of water and the way to personalise it. I rejected the idea of putting a label of paper because of the lack of durability and I made a circular serigraphy by treating and vectorising the original image.”

 Spanish State Archives

You can find more info about the record and the designer here:

Diseño de un ingenio para subir agua del rio Tajo al Alcazar de Toledo y proveer a la ciudad (ES-47161-AGS2 – ES-47161-AGS-UD-13790) on www.archivesportaleurope.net

https://angelmerlo.es/