July, 1st-3rd 2021 | Roma

Ernst Herzfeld Society 16th Colloquium 
The Arts and Archaeology of Funerary Cultures in Islam


Martina Massullo

Funerary Contexts in Afghanistan: Cemeteries from Ghazni


Several burial sites shape the landscape of Ghazni nowadays and even more used to do in the past. Since the 14th century, vast open-air graveyards, stone enclosures or mausoleums have gradually occupied the historical sites of the city and its surroundings. Whether in extensive cemeteries or mausoleums, inscribed marble tombstones were always associated to these funerary spaces. The majority of them are in a good state of preservation and currently safely stood in Afghan deposits. Tombstones display an appreciable variety of shapes and decorative patterns that have been analyzed in order to elaborate upon a systematic typology. Epitaphs, mostly carved in Arabic, always bear the date of death which helps establishing a firm chronology of the corpus and a relative dating of the funerary sites that host them. A geo-referenced map locating funerary areas on the field clearly shows their location and distribution and let trace possible local itineraries of tomb-types. This study is yielding encouraging results on the relation between Ghazni funerary areas and tombstones which will be further analyzed in a comparative perspective with coeval cemeteries of the Afghan region.