The Lessons of Nicholas Revett

When I set off researching Nicholas Revett, I started with the biological information, which turned out to be fairly easy.  Despite the fact that the site I was using did not have a death location, everything else was easily attainable and accessible.  However, once I started working on the tour stops, it began to be much clearer to me how complex this data is.  In regards to Revett, there is a lot of uncertainty, which I didn't think twice about at first.  In fact, I kind of expected it.  Older records aren't that great so it did not come to a surprise for me that Revett's birth date was not certain.  However, I was surprised that he had two different birth years 1720 or 1721, and between the two sources I was looking at, it appeared to me that each source thought their respective date was the only date.  This obstacle, though it seemed big at the time, was very small in the big picture of mapping Revett's travels.

Revett's travels left a lot of uncertainty.  We know when he left England, but we have no idea when he arrived in Livorno.  We know he was in Rome by 1745, but we do not know when he actually arrived.  We know he travelled to Pola for three months somewhere in between June of 1750 and January of 1751, but we do not know which three months.  This took a lot of time to write down and to analzye.

As a science major, a lot of my friends are involved in scientific research.  When they are doing research or for example, when I am in lab, if a run of an experiment results in uncertain results, another run is performed to determine what happened.  However, the Grand Tour is history, and we cannot just run another trial.  There is no way to redo or rerecord history some 300 years later. We cannot change what was recorded, and we can only work with what the sources have to offer.  This uncertainty that humanities researchers have no way around makes humanities research insanely interesting and complex.