What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
At Ca' Foscari I teach Ancient Near East Archaeology. I specialise in early urban cultures of Upper Mesopotamia (4th and 3rd millennium BC), of which I have mainly studied pottery and the mechanisms of product management and control through seals and sealings. Currently, however, I am mainly working on late prehistoric cultures (from the 5th to early 1st millennium BC) of Near Eastern northern mountain regions (Anatolia and the Caucasus). During my professional life I did fieldwork mainly in northern Iraq and Syria, but for about ten years I have been leading an archaeological mission in Georgia, in the Southern Caucasus. A matter that has always particularly attracted me is relations and exchanges between different cultural macro-areas, both within the Near East and beyond.
What are you most passionate about in your research?
Investigating the deep roots of our civilisation and the invisible threads that connect us with cultures apparently very distant from our own, which together helped make our world what it is today, and passing on this knowledge to young people so that it is not lost. What excites me most about archaeology is the element of discovery, which often comes unexpectedly from fieldwork, but also the apparently less adventurous side of research in libraries, archives or museums. I am also fascinated by the ability of archaeology to renew its research methods and techniques. In the last twenty years, the interaction with natural sciences, the possibilities offered by information technology to handle large amounts of data, and new analytical technologies have brought about a real revolution: we can now achieve a precision and level of detail in reconstructing the lives of our ancestors that was previously unimaginable.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
Yes, like many people, I have always had a great passion for archaeology since I was a child, but also, more generally, a great curiosity and a strong interest in studying. Over time, these have increased as I experienced first-hand the satisfaction of discovering something new. Fieldwork in the Near East gave me the chance to get in touch with cultures and societies different from our own. Besides greatly exciting me, research-wise, it has also enriched me as a person.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
That research is undoubtedly a hard journey and requires a great spirit of sacrifice, but it can be very satisfying and can fill a whole life. I think they should find the strength to go on even in spite of hardships and disappointments in this satisfaction and intellectual curiosity. Despite everything, I believe that being able to freely dedicate yourself to something that you are passionate about, that is constantly renewing and where you can make even a small contribution to the progress of knowledge, is a great privilege.