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Collecting antiquities and curiosities in eighteenth-century Transylvania the Saxon Lutheran pastor Laurentius Weidenfelder and his network

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  • Cn Inscriptions. Epigraphy. / Felirattan
  • Archaeology
  • History


Two letters written by the Saxon Lutheran pastor Laurentius Weidenfelder shed light on the practice of collecting in Transylvania in the mid-eighteenth century. Before turning to an analysis of the letters, this essay outlines Hungarian and Transylvanian endeavours which from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century were focused on locating and systematizing archaeological finds (primarily inscribed stone slabs) and then surveys Weidenfelder’s historiographic work. As his letters reveal, in addition to collecting, the learned pastor was engaged in the search for and trade in artefacts. In accordance with the breadth of scholarship characteristic among intellectuals of the age, Weidenfelder’s interests as a collector embraced palaeontology as well as other natural curiosities and objects whose construction was in some way distinctive. The letters reveal the existence of an informal international network which included collectors, dealers and scholars of art and archaeology. The fact that the Transylvanian members of this network belonged to a variety of ethnic and religious groups is a sign of the cultural diversity and tolerance that prevailed in the region at that time.

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