The Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST) was established as an autonomous development of the Centro Scavi e Ricerche in Asia dell’Is.M.E.O. e di Torino. It was founded on the initiative of Giorgio Gullini, Professor of Greek and Roman Archaeology at the University of Turin, with a constitutive act on 16 September 1963 by the University of Turin, the City of Turin, and the Province of Turin, later joined by the Region of Piedmont (until 2014) and the Fondazione CRT. The main aim was to support the archaeological research, especially abroad, conducted by the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Turin and, after its establishment in 1982, by the Department of Anthropological, Archaeological, and Historical-Territorial Sciences (now Department of Historical Studies). On 28 March 1972, the organisation was officially recognised with the D.P.R. nr. 702, and has been registered in the Register of Legal Entities at the Prefecture of Turin under nr. 683 since 16 March 2010.
The Centro Scavi Torino has always operated with the aim of ensuring the correct management and protection of the Cultural Heritage, reconstructing the historical contexts investigated, and presenting its scientific results to the public. In projects abroad, the Centro Scavi Torino also performs Italy’s obligations on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the framework of international cooperation agreements with various countries and institutions. These projects involve archaeological research, preservation and promotion activities, as well as training programmes for cultural heritage practitioners and specialists.
Over the years, the Centro Scavi Torino has developed research programmes on historical and archaeological topics such as the history of ancient Near Eastern civilisations, the cross-cultural exchanges in Hellenized Asia, and the formation of ‘Parthian art’ and its relations with Graeco-Roman culture, working in several countries in the Western Mediterranean (Italy, Tunisia), the Near East (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq), Iran, and Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Pakistan). In Iraq, which has always been the core of the organisation’s interests, the Centro Scavi Torino has promoted research in sites of primary importance such as Seleucia on the Tigris, Choche-Veh Ardashir, Babylon, and Hatra, and participated in international rescue projects on sites threatened by the construction of large water reservoirs in the north of the country. Currently, the Centro Scavi Torino has active expeditions in Iraq (Tulul al-Baqarat, Seleucia on the Tigris), Iran (Khuzestan), Turkmenistan (Parthian Nisa), and Mongolia (Kharkhorin).
In addition to scientific research and archaeological excavations, the Centro Scavi Torino supports initiatives that aim to protect and enhance the historical and archaeological heritage of the countries in which it operates, and engages in spreading knowledge and providing training both in Italy and abroad. These initiatives have become increasingly central and necessary, especially in light of the conflicts and instability that have characterised the political landscape of countries like Iraq in past decades. In 2009, the Centro Scavi Torino was awarded the Premio Rotondi ai salvatori dell’arte – Sezione mondo for its contribution to the recovery, restoration, and computerized cataloguing of artefacts of fundamental historical and artistic value in Iraq. Recent years have seen the undertaking of many projects showing the dedication of Turin’s archaeologists to the Iraqi Cultural Heritage. These include the reorganisation of three exhibition halls on the ground floor of the Iraq Museum, the reopening of the Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre for Archaeology and Restoration in Baghdad, which offers every year Italian language courses fully accessible to the local population and training programmes specifically designed for the staff of the Iraq Museum and the SBAH (State Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq), and the refurbishment of the Sumerian Hall of the Museum, currently under development.
In terms of scientific output, the Centro Scavi Torino is responsible for the publication of two yearly journals (Mesopotamia and Parthica) and of three series of archaeological monographs (Monografie di Mesopotamia, Mnème, and Attività e Ricerca).