2020, June

Publication announcement:

We are pleased to announce the publication of the edited volume :

Viola Allegranzi & Valentina Laviola (eds.), Texts and Contexts. Ongoing Researches on the Eastern Iranian World (Ninth-Fifteenth C.) [Pubblicazioni dell'Istituto per l'Oriente C.A. Nallino 120]. Roma, 2020. ISBN 978-88-97622-53-6

The volume contains papers presented at the Round Table Texts and Contexts. Ongoing Researches on the Eastern Iranian World (Ninth-Fifteenth C.), held at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” on September 14, 2018. The contributors deal with a variety of topics (textual and manuscripts studies, archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics), and present new researches and little known data on the history and material culture of the Pre-Modern Persianate world. The Scientific Committee was composed by M. Bernardini (“L’Orientale”), G. van den Berg (Universiteit Leiden), R. Giunta (“L’Orientale”) and M. Szuppe (CNRS-CeRMI, Paris).


  • V. Allegranzi, V. Laviola “Ongoing Researches on the Eastern Iranian World (Ninth-Fifteenth C.): A Preface to the Papers”
  • G. van den Berg “The Wall and Beyond: Some Notes on Text, Context, and Visual Representations of Iskandar, Ya’ǧūǧ and Ma’ǧūǧ in the Pre-Modern Persianate World”
  • C. Rhoné-Quer “Notes pour une histoire des fleuves en Orient médiéval : L’Amou Darya, une frontière du monde islamique (VIIe-XIe siècles) ?”
  • J.-D. Richaud “La légende dorée de Niẓām al-Mulk : Étude d’une figure de l’historiographie occidentale”
  • V. Allegranzi “Vers un réexamen des inscriptions historiques du monde iranien pré-mongol : Étude des cas des mausolées de Tim et de Termez en Ouzbékistan”
  • A. L. Corsi “A Dating for the Archaic Stuccoes in Būzān and their Relationship with Early Abbasid Syrian-Iraqi Production”
  • R. Giunta “Les études sur la documentation archéologique et épigraphique de Ghazni : Résultats et nouvelles pistes de recherche”
  • V. Laviola “Preliminary Analysis of Stucco Finds from the Ghaznavid Palace (Eleventh-Twelfth C.) in Ghazni”
  • A. Annucci “Islamic Coins from the Ghaznavid Palace in Ghazni: A General Overview”
  • M. Massullo “Traces épigraphiques de l’élite timouride à Ghazni (Afghanistan) : Les textes commémoratifs d’Uluġ Beg et ʿAbd al-Razzāq”
  • M. Bernardini “Les Qarawnas à Ghazni, XIIIe-XIVe siècles”

The volume is issued by the Istituto per l’Oriente Carlo Alfonso Nallino (Rome) and distributed by:

Libreria ASEQ
Via dei Sediari, 10 • 00186 Roma
Email: info@aseq.it - Tel./Fax 06 6868400



2019, June

Publication announcement:

Viola Allegranzi, Aux sources de la poésie ghaznavide. Les inscriptions persanes de Ghazni (Afghanistan, XIe-XIIe siècles), Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2019, 2 vols. ISBN 978-2-87854-981-2
http://psn.univ-paris3.fr/ ouvrage/aux-sources-de-la- poesie-ghaznavide-les- inscriptions-persanes-de- ghazni-afghanistan-xi-xiie- siecles#

AbstractThe Ghaznavids (977-1186) takes their name from the capital city of the dynasty, Ghazni, located in today’s Afghanistan. These Muslim rulers traditionally hosted at their court men of science and letters. Among these were numerous poets praising their patrons’ deeds through compositions in Persian. Therefore, the poetic inscriptions carved onto the marble slabs once adorning a royal palace and other monuments in Ghazni, constitute a first‑hand source on Ghaznavid culture and society. The present study offers an analysis of such Persian inscriptions, collected by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan (1957-), but only partially available to the public to date. The fresh evidence presented here encourages a reassessment of the cultural history, the political ideal and the artistic outcomes of the dynasty within the context of the Medieval Persianate world. A catalogue containing all the recorded inscriptions has been included in this publication as part of the effort to safeguard the archaeological material now dispersed and listed within the endangered cultural heritage of Afghanistan.

A member of the Islamic Ghazni Archaeological Project since 2008, Viola Allegranzi obtained a joint PhD at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 and the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’, with a dissertation focusing on the Persian inscriptions from Ghazni and the cultural history of the Ghaznavid period. The book recently released by the Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle is inspired from her thesis, awarded in 2018 by the University Sorbonne Nouvelle and by the Foundation for Iranian Studies.


2018, 14th September

Naples (Italy), international round table

Testi e contesti. Ricerche in corso sul mondo iranico orientale (IX-XV sec.)

[Texts and contexts. Ongoing researches on the Eastern Iranian world (9th-15th c.)]

In memoriam Gilbert Lazard and Ehsan Yarshater




Michele Bernardini, Roberta Giunta, Valentina Laviola (Università degli studi di Napoli "L'Orientale") and Viola Allegranzi (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle ‐ Paris 3 ; FRE2018 Mondes iranien et indien) convened a meeting devoted to medieval Eastern Iran, in the framework of the MIUR project "Studi e ricerche sulle culture dell’Asia e dell’Africa: tradizione e continuità, rivitalizzazione e divulgazione", and thanks to the financial support of the organizing institutions, ISMEO (Associazione Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l'Oriente), IPO (Istituto per l’Oriente “C.A. Nallino”) and the UFI/UIF Université Franco Italienne. The round table gathered experienced scholars as well as young researchers working in different fields to discuss the outcomes of current studies on textual and material sources informing the cultural history of the pre-Mongol Persianate world. 

Three papers dealt with History and Literature (G. van den Berg, M. Bernardini, C. Rhoné-Quer) and brought out the theme of physical and symbolic borders. Four speakers presented recent results of fieldworks and new research projects on archaeological materials (R. Giunta, V. Laviola, T. Lorain, P. Siméon). A third session was devoted to Epigraphy and Palaeography as disciplines complementary to History and Art history (V. Allegranzi, A. Karame, M. Massullo). Moreover, one M.A. and two PhD students presented posters on their ongoing research projects (A. Annucci, A.L. Corsi, J.-D. Richaud).

This third meeting on the cultural history of medieval Eastern Iran (following two workshops held in Paris in 2016 and 2017) confirmed the interest in pursuing and enlarging the dialogue on such a key period in the history of the Iranian societies. It was also the occasion to reinforce the collaboration between scholars carrying out researches on fresh or little known sources. The scientific committee (G. van den Berg, M. Bernardini, R. Giunta, M. Szuppe) concluded the meeting by encouraging the publication of proceedings and the organisation of further editions of the round table, envisaging to widen the programme and network of involved researchers.

For further details about this event, see Textes et contextes and Testi e contesti.

V. A. and V. L.



2017, 30th October

Aix-en-Provence, Aix-Marseille Université, oral defence of Martina Massullo PhD thesis:

Tombs and epitaphs from Ghazni (Afghanistan, 15th-18th century)

Archaeological investigations and surveys in Ghazni, the ancient capital of the Ghaznavids (late 10th-12th c.), delivered a large amount of epigraphic documents. Among these finds, an unpublished corpus of funerary inscriptions engraved on marble tombs is the object of this study, mostly based on the photographic archives of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan (1957-1978).

These lavishly decorated tombs, dating from the 15th century onwards, bear epitaphs carved in cursive script which display a combined use of Arabic and Persian. They attest of a new phase of activity of the city and shed new light on Ghazni history, after the long period of dump and destruction it suffered in the aftermath of the Mongol invasion, when the city lost its ancient political and cultural hegemony (early 13th century). Nevertheless, Ghazni witnessed a new renaissance as a religious and pilgrimage centre as the high number of mausoleums, holy shrines and tombs prove. Extensive cemeteries and burial sites grew up all around the city, redefining the local sacred topography. These funerary monuments mostly belong to local prominent personalities and often preserved the echo of their prestige for centuries, attracting later burials and becoming part of a local holy itinerary, a place of worship for pilgrims wishing to witness their faith to a venerable deceased.

The tombs and their epitaphs draw a new sketch of the city and its inhabitants between the late Middle Ages and pre-modern times. They maintained a refined level of craftsmanship along the centuries, showing an outstanding artistic longevity and originality which is the result of a production not associated to a particular dynasty or epoch but deeply rooted in Ghazni local culture.


2017, 27th October

Paris, Université "Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3", oral defence of Viola Allegranzi PhD thesis:

 Les inscriptions persanes de Ghazni, Afghanistan. Nouvelles sources pour l’étude de l’histoire culturelle et de la tradition épigraphique ghaznavides (Ve-VIe/XIe-XIIe siècles)

[Persian Inscriptions from Ghazni, Afghanistan. New Sources for the Study of Ghaznavid Cultural History and Epigraphic Tradition (5th-6th/11th-12th Centuries)]

Persian inscriptions from Ghazni may be regarded as both artistic testimonies and original primary sources for the cultural history of the Ghaznavid dynasty (366-582/977-1186). They provide evidence of the Ghaznavid contribution to the rise of New Persian as an epigraphic language complementary to Arabic, and of the distinctive features of its use.

Our study focuses on a corpus composed of 228 fragments of Persian poetic inscriptions, 113 of which have remained unpublished until now. These texts, carved onto marble dado panels, were mostly retrieved from a royal palace in Ghazni and recorded by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we pursue two main goals: firstly, to offer a comprehensive analysis of this epigraphic corpus in order to bring to light any historical data it may disclose. Secondly, to place the Persian inscriptions in context by means of a comparative study of epigraphic and literary sources produced in Ghazni and in the Persianate world between the 5th/11th and the 6th/12th centuries.

The spread of Persian epigraphy in the Ghaznavid capital city is confirmed by a set of documents that falls beyond our main corpus and until now has remained unknown. This new evidence provides chronological benchmarks for the use of Persian epigraphy at local and regional levels. We also note the central role played by Persian poetry in the Ghaznavid epigraphic tradition, borrowing the vocabulary of court panegyrists to build up a celebration of royal and Islamic ideals. This particular use finds echoes in other regions of pre-Mongol Iran and gives voice to the cultural policy of Eastern Islamic dynasties.


2017, 11th September

We express our deep sorrow for the disappearance of Nancy Hatch Dupree, a long time Director of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University and passionate advocate of Afghanistan’s heritage.

We also want to express the deepest gratitude for the attention she has always addressed to the activities of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan.

Her extraordinary dedication to Afghanistan will be not forgotten.


2017, 30th-31th August

New York (US), international workshop Indo-Ghuria: Continuities and Ruptures in 12th-13th-Century South and Central Asia, convened by A. Patel and A. Manon at the Columbia University.

Viola Allegranzi presented a paper entitled: "The Epigraphic Tradition Between the Ghaznavids and the Ghurids: Evidence from Ghazni and Bust/Lashkari Bazar".

Martina Rugiadi organized a commented visit of the materials from pre-Mongol Iran exhibited and stored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


2017, 5th-8th July

Paris (France), international conference 2ème Congrès du GIS “Moyen-Orient et Mondes Musulmans” held at the INALCO – Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, Université Sorbonne Paris Citè.

Viola Allegranzi arranged the panel Le voix du pouvoir : souverains, poètes, artisans dans le monde musulman oriental (Xe-XIVe siècles) and gave the speech "Nouvelles données sur la diffusion de l’épigraphie persane aux XIe-XIIe siècles". In this framework, Valentina Laviola presented a paper entitled "Writing Tools from Medieval Islamic Lands: Excavated Inkwells from Ghazni".

Martina Massullo presented the paper "L’Épigraphie funéraire à Ghazni (XIIIe-XVIIIe siècles) une contribution à l’histoire de la ville centrasiatique à l’époque post-mongole" in the framework of the panel La mort et ses inscriptions : peinture, poésies, mémoriaux.


2016, 3rd-4th November

Stuttgart (Germany), international workshop Khurasan: the Land of the Rising Sun convened by L. Korn, U. Franke and A. Kraemer at the Linden-Museum.

Viola Allegranzi presented a paper entitled "The Medieval Urbanism of Ghazni (Afghanistan), A Cross-reading of Textual and Material Evidence, 10th-12th centuries".

Valentina Laviola gave a talk entitled "Some Islamic Buckets from Ghazni and Khurasan. A Comparative Perspective".


2016, 21st-24th April

St. Andrews (UK), conference The Architecture of the Iranian World1000-1250, convened by Professor Robert Hillenbrand at the Institute of Iranian Studies, School of History, University of St Andrews.

Professor Roberta Giunta in collaboration with Carlotta Passaro (architect) presented a paper intitled Le palais ghaznévide de Ghazni fouillé par la Mission Archéologique Italienne : essai de reconstruction de ses phases de construction

See the full conference program


2016, 26th February

Ivry-sur-Seine (France), international workshop The Ghaznavids and Their Neighbours: New Researches on Eastern Iranian World (10th – 12th c.)

In memoriam Clifford Edmund Bosworth

Maria Szuppe (CNRS) and Viola Allegranzi (PhD student, Sorbonne Nouvelle ‐ Paris 3 ; "L'Orientale" di Napoli) convened this meeting in the framework of the
research program «Histoire et cultures iraniennes, indiennes et indo­‐persanes : Élites et réseaux» of the Research Unit Mondes iranien et indien (UMR 7528) and thanks to the financial support of this institution. The event was dedicated to the memory of Clifford Edmund Bosworth (29 December 1928 -­28 February 2015), the great historian and orientalist who promoted a new approach and consideration for the study of the eastern Islamic lands, thus paving the way for several generations of scholars. The objective of the workshop was to gather experienced scholars as well as young researchers working in different fields (History, Literature, Art and Archaeology, etc.) and to discuss the outcomes of recent studies on textual and material sources casting new light on the political and cultural history of Medieval Iran.


The eight papers and three posters presented pointed to a positive willingness to renew exchanges on issues related to the Ghaznavid period. The speakers addressed topics pertaining to political and religious history through the analysis of texts (F. Chiabotti, C. Rhoné) and materials (S. Cappelletti, P. Siméon). They also shared the results of the ongoing research on some Islamic sites in Afghanistan: in particular, a new DAFA archaeological project in the Bamiyan area (T. Lorain) and new data on the materials from the well-­known site of Ghazni (R. Giunta, A. Fusaro) were presented. Some attempts were made at using poetic texts as sources for a reconstruction of the setting and customs at the Ghaznavid court (V. Allegranzi, G. van den Berg). Finally, two contributors concentrated on the Ghaznavid memory over the centuries, particularly on the topography of holy burial places in Ghazni (M. Massullo) and on the transmission of epic cycles
attributed to the Ghaznavid poets in later manuscripts (M. Szuppe).

The diversity of topics presented and the workshop’s inclusive ambiance facilitated exchanges and several points of common interest emerged from the discussions. Participants agreed on the fact that a plural view may contribute to a better understanding of the political, scholarly and artistic tradition of eastern medieval Iran, this being an issue that is undoubtedly in need of a reappraisal. For all these reasons, we hope that the questions raised during this first meeting will be further investigated in a second edition, which would also give the opportunity for widening the scope of the workshop and the network of the researchers involved.


Further details on the this event at:

Mondes iranien et indien : Les Ghaznavides

V. A.


2016, 4th February

Venice, Ca’ Foscari University, oral defence of Valentina Laviola PhD thesis:

 Islamic Metalwork from Eastern Iranian territories (9th-13th c.). The documentation of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan

Object of the thesis are Islamic metalwork from nowadays Afghanistan dating from 9th to 13th century, namely the highest development period of Iranian metalwork. The Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan have documented, between 1957 and 2014, about 580 artefacts and fragments, most of whom are still unpublished and unfortunately already disappeared.

These artefacts, coming from archaeological or fortuitous excavations, museums and antiquarians, appear for the first time in a Corpus, distributed in seventeen classes on the base of their function. To extraordinary finds – two refined inkwells unearthed in the Ghaznavid palace in 1958, and a set of sixteen buckets recently retrieved at the foot of Ghazni ancient citadel – have been dedicated special focuses. The whole study gives a significant overview on the metalwork production from medieval Eastern Iranian area.


2014, 31st October 

Rome, Sapienza University of Rome. An event in honor of Umberto Scerrato: Saggi inediti e Opera Minora. Presentation of the volumes. 


2014, 6th-9th August 

Montréal, 10th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Iranian Studies. Panel Islamic Ghazni: Epigraphic Memory and Material Culture

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


V.A., A.F., V.L., M.M., August 2014