General scope of the project

This project brings together the documentation collected in Ghazni over decades of field work by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan, with the aim of safeguarding and disseminating an endangered cultural heritage. 

An important crossroads in Central Asia, Ghazni and its artistic manifestations represent an evocative synthesis of the developments of cultural phenomena that occurred in the region. The investigations highlight an uninterrupted archaeological sequence and a settlement continuity spanning from pre-Islamic [mostly Buddhist] (2nd-9th/10th century CE) to the Islamic period (end 10th-19th century CE). This sequence makes Ghazni a significant case study in which pre-Islamic and Islamic cultures overlap within the same territory.

The reasoned organization and online publication will secure the preservation of the archaeological data, facilitate their circulation among the scientific community, and promote research inside and outside Afghanistan. It is our wish that the establishing of a digital platform may contribute to the training of the new generation of Afghan cultural heritage professionals.

Scale and contents of the documentation

The documentation collected by the Italian Archaeological Mission since 1956 consists of:

  • 2,185 finds of the pre-Islamic period (mainly clay sculptures, mural paintings, coins, and potsherds from the Buddhist site of Tapa Sardar);
  • c. 62,000 finds of the Islamic period (mainly marbles, brickwork, and ceramics); 4,072 finds are currently available on this website;
  • Plaster casts of metalwork and coins, rubber casts of epigraphic documents (1964-1968);
  • Excavation journals, inventories, notes, and archaeological reports;
  • Photographs of the late 1950s up to the 1970s (c. 50,000), documenting the archaeological investigations of the Buddhist and Islamic sites in Ghazni1;
  • Drawings of the late 1950s up to the 1970s: plans, sections, drawings of artefacts (some of which are no longer extant) and of decorative patterns;
  • Chemical analyses of brickwork and stucco finds (2004, 2009);
  • Reports on restoration and finds’ state of preservation (2005-2009);
  • Digital photographs taken since 2002;
  • Virtual anastyloses based on archival documentation developed since 2002;
  • Digital 2D-3D models and pattern reconstructions developed since 2014.