Premodern Healthcaping houses two research projects:

“Healthscaping Urban Europe, 1200-1500”

2017 – 2022, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“Healthscaping Urban Europe, 1200-1500” brings together historians and archaeologists to explore how urban residents in two of Europe’s most urbanized regions–Italy and the Low Countries–thought about and pursued population-level health. The project builds on insights by scholars of premodern medicine; urbanism; and material culture, which collectively challenged the identification of public health as a uniquely modern phenomenon.

This project has traced the development of community health, safety, and wellbeing as a major aspect of the public good and as a key means of justifying and legitimating power in an urban context. It has explored the transmission of and tensions between medical theory and urban policy in this regard and examines the extent to which these were enforced from the political center outward, guarded and resisted by major economic stakeholders including the church, craft guilds and neighborhood agents.

Using a combination of methodologies drawing on anthropology, geography, cultural history, and science and technology studies, this group is defining a new key for observing how historical communities aspired to foster places where health could bloom. The team has produced several publications, including public lectures, podcasts, and interactive maps.

Funding generously provided by European Research Council.

Explore our team members and their activities through Open Access publications, blog posts, and events.


“Pursuing Public Health in the Preindustrial World, 1100-1800,”

2022 – 2026, Monash University, Australia


Building directly on the achievements and insights of the 2016-2022 Healthscaping project, “Pursuing Public Health in the Preindustrial World” expands its remit in two ways. Firstly, the project covers preventative practices not only in Europe, but also in India and the Eastern Mediterranean, regions where Hippocratic or Galenic medicine’s long-term presence affords points of comparison and knowledge transmission. Secondly, by focusing on non-urban and mobile groups such as courts, miners and pilgrims, the project balances almost exclusive urban focus in much of the existing scholarship on premodern public health.

The new team is based out of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and gathers historians, (bio)archaeologists and religionists spread throughout Europe, the US, India, and Australia.

Funding is generously provided by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects grant (DP220102914).

Explore our team members and their activities through Open Access publications, blog posts, and events.

The team respectfully acknowledges it works on unceded territory of First Nations peoples. Based out of Naarm/ Melbourne, it operates from the lands and waters of the Woi Wurrung and Boonwurrung speaking peoples of the Kulin Nation, the traditional and ongoing owners. We extend our gratitude to and respect to elders past and present.