Associate Professor
Management Committee of the University Scientific Instrumentation Service Center (CSA)'s Member
Vice Director of the Department of Asian and North African Studies
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Scientific sector (SSD)
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Department of Asian and North African Studies
Where: Ca' Cappello

Luca M. Olivieri (LVRLMR62S30H501C)

Associate Professor of Archaeology and Cultures of Gandhara and the Silk Roads, and of History and Material Culture of Buddhism (South Asia/Southeast Asia) at Ca' Foscari University, Venice.

Director of the Archaeological Mission in Pakistan (ISMEO, formerly IsIAO, now ISMEO-Ca' Foscari)

Director of Marco Polo Research Centre (MaP; DSAAM Ca' Foscari University Venice)

Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan (IAM) since 2013 (since 2008 as co-director) (ISMEO, previously IsIAO). Since 2020 IAM is co-managed by ISMEO and Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Director of the ACT-Field School Project in Swat from 2011 to 2016, which among other achievements in the fields of education, archaeology and restoration, succeeded in rebuilding the Swat Museum, as well as restoring the colossal Jahanabad Buddha, both damaged during the Taliban insurgency. Recently, Prof. Olivieri's work was acknowledged by the journal 'Archaeology' with the mention of his discovery of the ancient apsidal temple in Barikot, Swat, among the 10 most important archaeological discoveries of 2022.

As an archaeologist, he has been working in Swat (Pakistan) since 1987, where he has mainly focused on the ongoing excavation project at the urban site of Bir-kotghwandai (Barikot), the ancient Bazira of Alexander the Great, on rock art field research, on the Archaeological Map of the Swat Valley project, and on archival studies of early archaeological research in Gandhara. In addition to this, he is currently engaged in other research projects including (a) the Huna and Shahi phases (500-1000 CE) in Gandhara and Afghanistan (with the University of Vienna), (b) technique and production of early Gandhara art (c. 50-100 CE); (c) ritual archaeology and urban areas during the second phase of urbanisation in northern India (c. 500-100 BCE); (d) archaeological inter-phases and climatic changes in Gandhara; (e) bio-molecular archaeology of prehistoric/historic Swat in the first millennium BCE (with Max Planck Institute, Jena), (f) ancient genome of the Swat valley and Gandhara (with Harvard Medical School). As part of the latter, he participated as a co-author in a larger study on the genomics of South and Central Asia published in Science 365, 999 (2019) (Narasimhan et al. 2019; DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7487).

He trained as a field archaeologist (Classical Archaeology) at the school of Sapienza University of Rome. He subsequently completed his PhD at the Freie Universität Berlin (South Asian Languages and Cultures). To date, he has conducted and directed 40 excavation campaigns, 15 restoration and training campaigns and 20 archaeological surveys in Pakistan. Prof Olivieri has also worked in India, in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in Pondicherry, and in Afghanistan (here again with UNESCO), both in the Kabul area and in Bamiyan and Mes Aynak.

In recognition of his contribution in the field of archaeology and cultural heritage and over 30 years of archaeological service in Pakistan, he was awarded the title of Sitara-i-Imtiaz ('Star of Excellence') by the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2016. In 2013 and 2017, he was awarded the title of Officer OSI ('Order of the Star of Italy'), and Grand Officer OSI by the President of the Italian Republic.

He is editor of the ACT Field School Reports and Memoirs series (since 2013, 11 volumes published so far); co-editor of the Journal of Asian Civilizations (2017 -); senior editor of the journal East and West (new series; 2020 -). He is a member of the scientific/editorial boards of the following research journals: Frontier Archaeology, Ancient Pakistan, Pakistan Archaeology, Pakistan Heritage, FWU Journal of Social Sciences, Annali di Ca' Foscari (Eastern Series) (editorial board 2020-), East and West (international editorial board 2020-), Lahore Museum Bulletin, Journal of Research Society of Pakistan (JRSP) (section editor). In 2012, he became a member of the Scientific Council of the Sinica Commission. In 2011, he was recognised as a doctoral tutor by the High Education Commission, Pakistan. He collaborates as a key advisor and trainer (archaeology) on UNESCO projects (Afghanistan) in collaboration with the Afghan Institute of Archaeology (2018 to August 2021). He is a member of the UNESCO Roster for Culture in Emergencies (Middle East, South and Central Asia) (since 2019). In 2020, he was elected member of the Core Management Committee of the International Conference on Buddhism in Pakistan (Silk Road Centre and Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations) (Islamabad 2021). Since 2020, he has been an external member of the Doctoral Course in Cultural Heritage and Heritage Management established at Hazara University, Manshera, Pakistan.

Since 2020 he has been an Ordinary Member of CeSAV (Centro Studi di Archeologia Venezia, Ca' Foscari University of Venice).

Since 2021 he has been an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (FRAS).

From 2023 to 2026 has been named Guest Fellow of Tsinghua University Center for Pakistan Culture and Communication Studies.

Since 2021 he has been a member of the 'Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts. A Project for the Preservation and the Study of the Buddhist Art of Pakistan" Ruhr Universität Bochum, directed by Jessie Pons; since 2020 he has been a member of the ZiF cooperation group "Volcanoes, Climate and History - VCH" Universität Bielefeld, directed by Ulf Büntgen; since 2019 he has been a member of the "Linked Data Methodologies in Gandhāran Buddhist Art and Texts" Ruhr Universität Bochum, directed by Jessie Pons; since 2018 he has been a member of the "Cultural Formation and Transformation: Shahi Art and Architecture from Afghanistan to the West Tibetan Frontier at the Dawn of the Islamic Era" Universität Wien, directed by D. Klimburg-Salter and M. Alram.

Recent activities include a collateral project to the excavation activities in Swat, directed by Luca Maria Olivieri. The project deals with the paleoclimate of Swat in the Late Antique Ice Age (on the so-called LALIA or Late Ancient Little Ice Age problem) 'Late Antique Swat Ecology and Resilience: Climate and Habitat in Interfacial Periods' and is carried out together with Dario Battistel (Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics). The two-year project, funded within the framework of Ca' Foscari's SPIN 2021 projects, also sees the collaboration of Nicola Di Cosmo (Princeton University), Ulf Büntgen (Cambridge University), Federico Squarcini (Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies) and Elisa Iori (Max-Weber Kolleg, Universität Erfurt).

The Mission's ongoing projects with Ca' Foscari include the project "Hellenism and India. Technologies of stone and building sites in Gandhara: Saidu Sharif I" directed by Luca M. Olivieri, which has produced a monograph in the new Marco Polo series (Edizioni Ca' Foscari) directed by Sabrina Rastelli and Elisabetta Ragagnin (Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies). Mention should also be made of the study group 'Alexander's Swat: toponymy, archaeology and texts' with Claudia Antonetti (Department of Humanities) and scholars from various universities in Italy and abroad, as well as the SPIN project directed by Claudia Antonetti 'Social, ritual and ceremonial use of wine in the Gandharan area, from the Achaemenids to the Kushans', which is being carried out in close collaboration with the Archaeological Mission in Swat.

Among the field projects directed by Luca M. Olivieri, in addition to the annual excavation campaigns in Swat, is the 'Saving Bazira Archaeological Site' project, led and co-funded by ISMEO with funding from the Aliph Foundation (January 2022-April 2024). The project involves the conservation and partial restoration of the monumental terraces of the acropolis of Barikot (ancient Bazira) in Swat. As of March 2023, the first year of the project, more than 60 per cent of the planned activities have been completed.

All research activities have been published in almost 200 scientific papers, including the following monographs (in the last 7 years):

Morgan. Ll., L.M. Olivieri (2022) A View from Malakand. Harold Deane's 'Note on Udyana and Gandhara'. ACT Field School Reports and memoirs, Archival Studies, 3/Gandhara Connections, University of Oxford. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Olivieri L.M. (2022) Stoneyards and artists in Gandhara. The Buddhist stupa of Saidu Sharif I, Swat (c. 50 CE). Serie Marco Polo, 1. Venezia: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Olivieri L.M., P. Callieri (2020) Ceramics form the excavations in the historic settlement at Bir-kot-ghwandai (Barikot), Swat, Pakistan (1984-1992). ACT Field School Project Reports and Memoirs/Serie Orientale Roma 22 (pp. 1-592, pp. 1-665), Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.

Olivieri L.M. (2016) Digging up. Fieldwork guidelines for archaeology students (2nd revised edition). ACT Field School Project Reports and Memoirs (pp. 1-260), Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.

Vidale M., R. Micheli R., L.M. Olivieri (2016) Excavations at the protohistoric graveyards of Gogdara and Udegram. ACT Field School Project Reports and Memoirs (pp. 1-244+XV). Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.

Olivieri L.M. (2015) Sir Aurel Stein and the ‘Lords of the Marches’. New Archival Materials. ACT Field School Project Reports and Memoirs (con un contributo del Leon Levy and Shelby White Publication Program) (pp. 1-402) Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.

Olivieri L.M. (2015) Talking Stones. Painted Rock Shelters of the Swat Valley. ACT Field School Project Reports and Memoirs (pp. 1-260), Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.

Callieri P., A. Filigenzi A., L.M. Olivieri (2015) At the Origin of the Gandharan Art (p. 1-232), Shangai: Shangai Classics Publishing House [in Chinese]