The four of us arranged a panel at the 10th Biennal Conference of the International Society for Iranian Studies, to present the first results of our ongoing doctoral researches on archaeological materials from Ghazni. Lisa Golombek, curator emeritus at the Royal Ontario Museum of Toronto, chaired the panel, raising some central questions and widening the horizon of comparisons. Further exchanges were carried out with the audience, delineating differences and similarities between the artistic tradition in Ghazni and those of Khorasan, Central Asia and Western Iran: for example, the wide use of marble, and the absence of ceramic tiles on the funerary monuments of Ghazni.
The panel was articulated in two sections: the first dealing with the issue of epigraphic analysis (of Persian and funerary inscriptions), the second with metalwork and pottery. Each topic was presented in a comparative perspective and placed in the panorama of Iranian Studies. These were the main points of our papers:
  • Persian inscriptions from Ghazni: the links with the poetic tradition

Viola Allegranzi (PhD student, “La Sorbonne Nouvelle” – Paris 3; “L’Orientale” University of Naples)

This paper dealt with the use of Persian language in Ghaznavid monumental epigraphy (11th–12th century). Viola particularly emphasized the early dating of Persian inscriptions - engraved both on civil and funerary monuments - and stressed the similarities in form end content between the inscribed texts and the poetic tradition of early Islamic courts in the East.

  • Shapes and Voices of Marble: Funerary Monuments from Ghazni (15th – 18th c.)

Martina Massullo (PhD student, Aix-Marseille University; “L’Orientale” University of Naples)

Martina first introduced the large repertoire of late funerary monuments and discussed the content of some epitaphs bearing witness of the diffusion of Sufism and of the progressive transformation of Ghazni in a place of pilgrimage on saints’ graves. She also focused on the use of Persian language in some tombstones and steles from the 15th century onwards.

  • Islamic Metalwork from Ghazni: the Rawza Museum Collection

Valentina Laviola (PhD student, Ca’ Foscari Univeraity of Venice, “L’Orientale” University of Naples)

This paper consisted in an introductory review of the history and current condition of Museums and Islamic collections in Afghanistan, and in a further display of the variety of metalwork from the Rawza Museum. Valentina supported the hypothesis of a local production of metalwork in Ghazni and showed some original features of the Afghan production with respect to the contemporary ‘Khorasanian style’.

  • Re-discovering Ghazni: New Data on the Pottery Corpus from Islamic Ghazni

Agnese Fusaro(PhD student, Sapienza University of Rome)

Finally, Agnese talked about the ceramic production unearthed in Ghazni and the clues it provides to reconstruct a chronology of the different stages of the main Islamic sites: the Ghaznavid Palace and the house of the lustre-wares. She also discussed the ceramic material in relation to Ghazni’s sociological environment and to the trade flows connecting Iran, Central Asia, India and China.

The conference was an important occasion and we were glad to share the first results of our on-going researches with expert scholars and young colleagues and to receive feedbacks and suggestions. More information on the panel can be seen on the website of the International Society for Iranian Studies