A graduate of the University of Rome in 1944, Giorgio Gullini was Inspector in the Antiquities and Fine Arts Administration until 1952, and Director up to 1956, when he was awarded the chair in Archaeology and History of Greek and Roman Art at the University of Turin, held until 1998.
In this University, he was Director of the Institute of Archaeology from 1958 to 1981, Head of the Department of Anthropological, Archaeological and Historical/Territorial Sciences, founded by him, until 1989, as well as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy from 1962 to 1972. He was also President of the Sector Committee for the Archaeological Heritage (National Council of Cultural Heritage) from 1976 to 1986 and Member of the National Council of Universities from 1979 to 1986. One of the first aides of Giuseppe Tucci in the archaeological missions in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iran, from 1955 to 1961 Giorgio Gullini took part in the exploration of the city of Udegram, anciently known as Ora, founded by Alexander the Great, in the Swat, of the Ghazni palace in Afghanistan and of the Kuh-i-Khwaja complex in Seistan (Iran).
In 1963, together with Turin’s local government authorities and the University of Turin and with the support of the Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, Gullini promoted the creation of the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l’Asia, of which he was at first the Scientific Director and then the President, until 2004, the year in which he died. In these roles, he outlined, developed and directed the research conducted by Turin’s archaeological school in Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Tunisia, as well as in Italy, in Locri and Selinus.
Gullini’s research focused on great issues of antiquity, considering the development of the great Mediterranean cultures from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the late antique period, as stages and aspects of an essentially homogeneous scenario. He principally researched ancient history, from early Sumerian to Byzantine, seen as a complex document of knowledge on ancient cultures and societies, and dedicated special attention to the study of the forms of monumental Greek architecture in archaic times (the temples of Selinus) and Roman architecture of the mid- and late-republican stages that were related to Hellenism (such as the sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia in Palestrina) and of the mid-imperial period (the Hellenistic-Syriac school to which Apollodorus of Damascus and his great integrated project for Trajan’s Rome belong). Gullini dedicated ample space to the spread of Hellenism in Asia, also considered in its interrelations with local cultures and in its return, in late antique times, towards the West.
In 1969 Gullini founded the Italian-Iraqi Institute of Archaeological Sciences and the Italian-Iraqi Centre for the Restoration of Monuments, innovative instruments of a continuous joint cooperation with local authorities through the application of the most advanced technologies for the management of cultural heritage.
With the same intent, he also created, through international agreements, the Italian-Jordanian Institute of Archaeological Sciences in Amman and the Italian-Tunisian Institute of Cultural Heritage Science in Tunis, whose scope of activities extends to the entire Maghreb region. In 1966, Gullini founded (and directed for many years) “Mesopotamia”, a Journal of Archaeology, Epigraphy and Ancient Eastern History, supplemented by monographs dedicated to specific topics and especially to the final reports of the Centro Scav's researches in Asia.
From the late 1970s, Gullini increasingly focused his attention on the contribution of physical, mathematical and natural sciences in the management of cultural heritage. He made important contributions in this area, pursuing, through an equal application of the various sciences, the disciplinary integration guided by the centrality historical investigation.
He directed the CNR’s first Targeted Project “Science for Cultural Heritage” from 1978 until its end, and, in part, he contributed to the commencement of feasibility studies for the second project of the same name.
As President of the Scientific Council, Gullini contributed to the organization and restructuring of the CNR’s “Institute of Technology Applied to Cultural Heritage”. Gullini was a national member of Turin’s Academy of Sciences and a correspondent member of Rome’s Accademia dei Lincei.
In 1971 he received the Gold Medal for Scientific Achievements in Culture and the Arts. His vast body of studies includes over 100 works and articles in specialized journals and ranges from classical to eastern archaeology.