June, 7th-10th 2021 | Firenze

NUME21 - VII Ciclo di Studi Medievali


Viola Allegranzi, Valentina Laviola, Carlotta Passaro

An Islamic Palace of the Middle Ages:

Reconstructive Case Studies of the Dispersed Material from Ghazni (Afghanistan)

[Un palazzo sultaniale del Medioevo islamico: casi-studio ricostruttivi del materiale disperso di Ghazni (Afghanistan)]


The excavations led in Ghazni by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan from 1957 to 1978 brought to light, among other ruins, the remains of a royal palace (11th-12th century). Archaeological activities stopped abruptly due to the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979. Thousands of finds and the archives collected by the Mission members were only partially studied, until the establishment in 2004 of the Islamic Ghazni Archaeological Project, which aimed at reassessing the study of the material scattered between Afghanistan and Italy, and partly dispersed. The project has developed in the name of interdisciplinarity and has made extensive use of modern digital technologies. 

 The digitization of archives has been a primary requirement to safeguard a material that is constantly endangered (in Afghanistan) and poorly accessible (both in Afghanistan and in Italy). Creating a website that gathers the photographic documentation of marbles, bricks, stuccoes, pottery tiles, coins and funerary elements has promoted the dissemination of Ghazni archaeological heritage among specialists and the wider public. The web database has allowed an overall view of the finds, as well as the use of new technologies for a faster graphic reconstruction of fragmentary items and the topographical elaboration of the plans of buildings and sites. These tools complement an interdisciplinary approach consisting in the study of historical and literary sources, alongside the analysis of materials from an archaeological and technical point of view, also in view of future restorations.

 The results achieved thanks to graphic reconstructions and 3D renders will be illustrated through some case studies, which offer hypothetical relocation of the finds coming from the palace of Ghazni, a building that is emblematic of Eastern Islamic art due to its layout and refined architectural decoration made of marble, brick and stucco.