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 archival documentation (former IsIAO archives) consists of:

  •  2,169 artefacts of the pre-Islamic period (mainly clay sculptures, mural paintings, coins, and potsherds from the Buddhist site of Tapa Sardar)
  • c. 62,000 artefacts of the Islamic period (marbles, alabasters, baked brick and stucco elements, ceramics [c. 50,000], metalwork, and glass); of these, 1,400 marbles and alabasters are available on this website
  • excavation journals, inventories, notes, publications
  • photographs of the late 1950s up to the 1970s (c. 50,000), documenting the archaeological investigations of the Buddhist and Islamic sites in Ghazni
  • 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
  • digital photographs taken from 2002 onwards
  • virtual anastyloses based on archival documentation developed from 2002 onwards.

Buddhist Ghazni             Islamic Ghazni