"...Who was Athanasius Kircher? During his lifetime, the Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) was widely regarded as the physical embodiment of all the learning of his age. ... Kircher had over 760 correspondents, including scientists, physicians, Jesuit missionaries, two Holy Roman Emperors, popes, and potentates throughout the globe. The subjects discussed in his voluminous correspondence cover the entire range of his interests. Letters sent to Kircher were commonly accompanied by curious natural objects or artefacts for Kircher's expanding collection in Rome and reports of astronomical observations or experiments performed by the global network of Jesuit missionaries. In return, Kircher sent his powerful patrons medicines and balsams produced in the pharmacy of the Jesuit college in Rome, and elaborate machines of his devising such as the Mathematical Organ, an example of which is now preserved in the Museum of History of Science in Florence. In the three centuries since Kircher's death his immense correspondence has remained unpublished. The correspondence constitutes a hugely important resource for the study of early modern Europe, and its interest goes far beyond the study of Kircher's own career...."