Codex Topographicus Pompeianus, 1937-1957 and undated

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Warsher, Tatiana
40 volumes of Tatiana Warsher's bound manuscript, Codex Topographicus Pompeianus, detailing the archaeology and architecture of Pompeii, Italy. Volumes include typescripts, maps, photographs, and foldout pages describing streets, buildings, and art in and collected from Pompeii. This set of volumes was assembled by Michael Rostovtzeff, Warsher's mentor and a fellow scholar on Roman antiquities.
40 Volumes
Materials in English, Italian, Russian, German, Latin, and French.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Codex Topographicus Pompeianus consists of manuscript volumes written by Tatiana Warsher between 1937 and 1957. Her mission and motivation in writing the Codex is explained in an undated preface in Volume 3 (focusing on Regio I, Insula 3):

"The work that I am now undertaking, the first completed section of which I offer in the following pages, is to be a descriptive album of photographs of all Pompeii thus far excavated, taken systematically, Insula by Insula. The illustrations are to be accompanied by a running description which will state briefly the essential features of each building in the Insula and of almost each particular illustrated. The need for such a complete and thorough work is great. It is superfluous for me to remark that Pompeii offers an inexhaustible source of first hand material for our study of the ancient world. Every archaeologist knows that in the ruins of Pompeii are hundreds of subjects for research, until now hardly touched upon, which when treated will contribute vastly to our knowledge of ancient Roman life. My album - Codex topographicus - will place this tremendous store house of material within easy reach."

In Volume 36 (focusing on Regio IX, Insula 3), Warsher's preface sheds light on her modest views of her research and its value for future scholarship:

"This is only a rough draft of a book that someone else must write, as Lawrence Richardson has now done with the house of Dioscuri. I have always considered my work that of laying foundations upon which others may build. I have repeatedly urged young students to concentrate their efforts on a single house in the hope that by doing so we shall preserve the fast-vanishing evidence of the excavations. No house merits such a study more than the Casa di Marco Lucrezio. Its difficult plan, its rich paintings, its epigraphical problems, its history are all fascinating. The[sic] let someone take what I offer here as a basis for farther study, elaborate and finish it."

Scholar Lawrence Richardson's biography of Warsher explains that her Codex underwent multiple revisions as she created and distributed new copies of each volume for her mentor, Michael Rostovtzeff, as well as for other scholars and libraries. The volumes in this collection represent the most complete set available in a single research library.

Each volume describes a specific region and zone within Pompeii, indicated by the volume's title. Warsher's photography, cartography, and research about each area's geography, architecture, archaeology, and artwork is included alongside pages of her typescript descriptive text, often written in multiple languages (including English, Latin, Italian, German, and French). Tables of contents are transcribed if included in the volume, as well as production dates and any introductory dedications by Warsher.

Biographical / historical:

Tatiana Warsher (1880-1960) was born in Moscow and attended the Women's College of the University of St. Petersburg from 1898-1901, where she studied with Michael Rostovtzeff. She first went to Pompeii in 1911, while on her honeymoon. Later widowed, she left Russia in 1921 and studied with Pompeian scholars Franz Noack and Gerhart Rodenwalt at the University of Berlin. In 1923 she reconnected with Rostovtzeff, who encouraged her to study Pompeii. She settled in Rome and joined the German Archaeological Institute, and began intensely studying Pompeii, taking frequent research trips to the site.

Warsher's first book was Pompeii in Three Hours, a guide book originally published in German in 1925, and later reissued in other languages. She then began compiling and writing the Codex Topographicus Pompeianus, manuscript volumes intended to document every detail about various areas within Pompeii, including photographs of the ruins, floorplans and drawings of the sites, and artwork preserved in various Pompeiian collections around Italy. Initially writing for the German Archaeological Institute's library, Warsher later made copies of the Codex that included additional information she had discovered since writing her initial volumes. Copies were distributed to the German Archaeological Institute, the American Academy in Rome, the Swedish Institute in Rome, and to Rostovtzeff's personal library, which was later given to the Duke University Classics Department (the volumes in this collection).

Warsher lived in Rome through World War II, and following the war re-established contact with American scholars. Her Codex volumes were microfilmed and distributed to libraries around the world.

Biography abridged from "Tatiana Warsher 1880-1960," by Lawrence Richardson, Jr.

Acquisition information:
The Codex Topographicus Pompeianus was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a transfer from the Duke University Classics Dept. in 2016.
Processing information:

Processed by Ben Saalfeld, Meghan Lyon, Feb. 2017

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2016-

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item and volume], Codex Topographicus Pompeianus, by Tatiana Warsher. Held at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.