On the banks of the Tigris

On the banks of the Tigris. Suggestions from the archaeological collections of the MAO: Seleucia and Coche.
MAO-Museo d’Arte Orientale Turin, 20th September 2019 – 12th January 2020

Over the centuries spanning between the venture of Alexander the Great and the rise of Islam the known world became boundless as never before. In that time, the concept of ‘city’ as we perceive it today did originate: cities were places of complex interactions and edges of an extensive network linking the Mediterranean to China. In one of the most important nodes of this global network, Central Mesopotamia, the way to the Gulf and the Silk Road, capitals of unparalleled importance were founded, thus starting a process that did come to its apogee with the Abbasid foundation of Baghdad. The first capital there founded, at the very end of the 4th cent. BCE, was Seleucia on the Tigris, a metropolis extended like Turin in the 18th Century. To that followed, on the other bank of the river, Ctesiphon, the legendary capital compounded with the round city of Veh Ardashir (or Coche) in the 3rd cent. CE. These two complexes on the opposite banks of the Tigris flourished and rivalled for centuries, leading empires that were the counterparts of Rome. There are no European Institutions keeping Collections of archaeological materials coming from Seleucia and Coche, with the exception the MAO. These were acquired thanks to the research conducted by the Centro Scavi Torino. In the world, only the Kelsey Museum, Ann Arbor (MI), and Iraq Museum, Baghdad, keep similar Collections. In this exhibit, developed in the frame of the project (in)visible Collections, these materials are displayed once in a while, for bringing to the knowledge of a large audience the history of those cities, and the history of the Turin researchers who discovered them.

In the capital of the steppes

In the capital of the steppes. A public archaeology project in Mongolia
Museo della Ceramica di Mondovì,Mondovì, 11th May – 3rd September 2019

The exhibition "Nella capitale delle steppe", that illustrates a public archeology project carried out by Centro Scavi Torino in the Kharkhorin area, the ancient Karakorum, capital of the empire of Genghis Khan, arrives at the Museum of Ceramics of Mondovì, The exhibition, created with the support of the MAO-Museo d'Arte Orientale of Turin, aims to present the collaboration between the Centro Scavi Torino and the Museum of Ceramics for the elaboration of an international public project that brings together professionals with different backgrounds and skills; at the same time, it allow an overview of a distant and fascinating historical and cultural reality.

Statues Also Die

Statues Also Die. Conflicts and Heritage between Ancient and Contemporary
Museo Egizio, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Musei Reali
Turin, 9th March 2018 – 6th January 2019

The exhibition is held in three locations (Museo Egizio, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Musei Reali) and collects within a single and coherent exhibition itinerary Egyptian, Cypriot, Greek and Roman finds intentionally damaged or reworked both in ancient times and recent times. They are also interrelated with modern artworks by mainly Egyptian and Middle Eastern artists, inspired by the destruction activities against the cultural heritage that Isis/Daesh systematically operated in Syria and Iraq, and at the same time aimed at suggesting a reflection on the museums role. The Centro Scavi Torino presents here some photographic reproductions of the stone reliefs from the Sennacherib’s Palace at Niniveh (Museo Egizio), taken during a documentation campaign in 2002 carried out in collaboration with the MiBACT, a video about the Iraq Museum at Baghdad (Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo) and a video (Musei Reali) about the archaeological project currently underway at Tulul al-Baqarat in southern Mesopotamia, funded by Centro Scavi Torino and MAECI and directed by C. Lippolis.

The capital of the steppes

The capital of the steppes. Images from the excavations at Karakorum in Mongolia
Turin, MAO Museum of Oriental Art, 26th April 2018 - 3rd June 2018

After the collaboration agreement signed between the city of Turin and the city of Kharkhorin two years ago, the exhibition, created by the MAO and the Centro Scavi Torino in collaboration with the Museum of Karakorum, celebrates the cultural and artistic history of Mongolia through the presentation to the Turin public of the archaeological site of Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol empire, founded by Genghis Khan in 1220.

From Nineveh to Mosul

From Nineveh to Mosul. Ancient masterpieces at the dawn of the third millennium.
Pavia, Biblioteca Universitaria
16th November 2017 – 13th January 2018

The exhibition on Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, opened on the 16th of November 2017 at the Salone Teresiano of the University Library in Pavia. The display included a series of photographic panels reproducing the stone reliefs from Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” at Nineveh. The pictures, already exhibited in Turin, Baghdad, Venice and Würzburg, were taken by the photographer Angelo Rubino on the occasion of the survey and study campaigns organized in 2002 by the Centro Scavi Torino in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism (MiBACT). The exhibition is an irreplaceable tool to spread the knowledge of these Neo-Assyrian masterpieces as well as to raise awareness about the necessity to protect and preserve the Near Eastern archaeological heritage that has been recently subjected to brutal and extensive destructions.

Ninive. Bilder aus Sanheribs Palast ohnegleichen

Ninive. Bilder aus Sanheribs Palast ohnegleichen
Würzburg, Martin Von Wagner Museum
21th October 2016 – 19th February 2017

The Centro Scavi Torino, in collaboration with the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, contributed to the design and set up of the photographic exhibition on the Assyrian stone reliefs from the Sennacherib Palace at Nineveh. The pictures displayed as photographic panels, which had already been exhibited in Turin, Baghdad and Venice, were taken by Angelo Rubino in 2002, on the occasion of two survey and study campaigns at Nineveh conducted by the Centro Scavi Torino in collaboration with the MiBACT. The exhibition opened on the 21st of October 2016 and was hosted by the Martin von Wagner Museum in the South Wing of the picturesque Residenz in Würzburg. Through the display of these photos, the Centro Scavi Torino brings to life the project of making these Neo-Assyrian art masterpieces accessible to the public while emphasizing the necessity to protect and preserve the archaeological heritage of the Near East, recently subjected to extensive destructions.

Nineveh, an Assyrian capital between past and present

Nineveh, an Assyrian capital between past and present
Venezia – Dorsoduro 1686, San Sebastiano, Aula Colonne, July, 8 – October, 31, 2015

The pictures of the reliefs of the Sennacherib’s “Palace without rivals”, displayed in the exhibition, were taken in 2002 during two survey campaigns aimed at producing an updated and detailed documentation of the state of preservation of the throne suite’s orthostats. The pictures were taken by Angelo Rubino, photographer of the IsCR; these already were the objects of two past exhibitions, held at the Archivio di Stato of Turin and the Iraq Museum of Baghdad. The exhibition is curated by Carlo Lippolis, Stefano de Martino (Centro Scavi Torino) and Lucio Milano (Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia).

A window to the Orient

A window to the Orient
Materials from Seleucia in the collections of Palazzo Madama
Turin, Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Madama, December 2013 - August 2015

The collections of Palazzo Madama include over 3,000 artefacts (sealings, pottery, terracotta figurines, elements of architectural decoration, glasses, coins, small bone and metal objects) that were found during the first Italian archaeological missions at Seleucia on the Tigris and brought to Turin thanks to the laws in effect at that time in Iraq. On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the Centro Scavi Torino decided to present to the visitors of the museum a selection of these objects, now displayed in a case in a room of the basement.

Splendors of Parthian Nisa

Splendors of Parthian Nisa. Italian excavations in Turkmenistan
Istituto San Giuseppe, Torino, 4 - 29 maggio 2011

The exhibition presents an exceptional evidence of the Hellenistic-Parthian art, hitherto little known to the general public, i.e. the royal citadel of Old Nisa, in present-day Turkmenistan. The site represents one of the first royal foundations of the Parthians who, starting from the middle of the 3rd century BCE, began the conquest of the Iranian plateau and then of the Mesopotamia. Through photos, architectural plans and drawings, the exhibition aims to provide the visitor with an overall view of the culture of Parthian Nisa, highlighting the strong Hellenistic influence and the cultural interrelationships between the different traditions in these regions. The illustration of the various fields of research conducted by the archaeologists of the Centro Scavi Torino at Nisa allow the reconstruction of a exhaustive overview of the main historical and archaeological evidence: indeed, the site of Old Nisa is the only well known Arsacid royal foundation and a highly significant representation of the phases of development of this civilization.

Treasures from the dynastic sanctuary of Parthian Nisa

Treasures from the dynastic sanctuary of Parthian Nisa
Rieti, Museo Civico, September 11, 2010 – February 27, 2011

In this exhibition the results of the researches conducted by Centro Scavi Torino in the royal citadel of Old Nisa are illustrated by pictures and panels from the beginning of the ‘90s until 2010. Both the excavation and the finds are emphasized.

Parthian Iran

Parthian Iran
Excavations at Nisa and materials from the collections
Rome, Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale “G. Tucci”, 25th February – 25th March 2009

This exhibition focuses on different aspects of the artistic and handcrafts production in Parthian Iran. The first section shows the results of the Soviet, Russian and Italian excavations at Old Nisa with the aid of drawings, plans and photographs of the most important materials from the site, as the ivory rhytons, clay statues, marble sculptures and metal figurines. The second section displays objects from the collections of the Museo Nazionale di Arte Orientale “G. Tucci”. Coming from different regions of the Iranian plateau, they provide the visitor with an overview of the rich artistic and cultural tradition of the Parthian period.

Nineveh. The Sennacherib’s Palace without Rivals

Nineveh. The Sennacherib’s Palace without Rivals
Turin, Archivio di Stato, 14 July - 23 September 2007
Baghdad, Iraq Museum, November 2008

At the end of the 8th century BCE Sennacherib built a magnificent palace at Nineveh, in the heart of the Assyrian empire. Called in royal inscriptions the “Palace without rival”, it was decorated with remarkable stone reliefs. In 2002, just before the beginning of the recent conflict in Iraq, a survey was carried on by technicians of the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro of Rome in collaboration with the Centro Scavi Torino. The survey aimed at producing an updated and detailed documentation of the state of preservation of the throne suite’s reliefs. The large-size images displayed in the exhibition allowed to appreciate the high degree of refinement reached by the Assyrian art during the reign of Sennacherib. The exhibition was promoted by the Centro Scavi Torino in cooperation with the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, with the financial support of the Fondazione CRT. The exhibition held in the Iraq Museum of Baghdad was organized by the Italian Embassy in Iraq.

On Alexander’s tracks

On Alexander's tracks. From Seleucia to the Gandhara
Turin, Palazzo Madama, Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, 27 February – 27 May 2007

This project aims, by projecting the situation of Seleucia into the wider context of the provinces of the Parthian empire, to study in depth a phase in the history of the Middle East and Asia with which the public by and large is not familiar. This phase is dominated by historic events of notable importance for the evolution of our civilization, above all the effects of long distance trade. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to observe findings from Seleucia that are mostly unknown (terracotta, ceramics, coins, metal or glass objects), recently acquired by the Museo Civico d'Arte Antica of Turin at the conclusion of the hand-over made by the Centro Scavi Torino. The culture of the Parthian empire will be illustrated with artistic and handcrafted objects from great museums such as the Louvre, the British Museum, the Vorderasiatisches Museum of Berlin and the Kelsey Museum of Ann Arbor (U.S.A.). The visit explores several themes which highlight different aspects of life at Seleucia and offers a well presented selection of artifacts from various sources.

From adventure to science

From adventure to science
History and practice of an archaeological journey
Turin, Museo di Antichità, 17 April - 30 June 2004

The exhibition was conceived and arranged by the Centro Scavi Torino in the form of a journey which illustrates to the public at large the transformations and goals of contemporary archaeology, utilizing the 40 years of experience and the evolution of the Centro Scavi Torino. This development has been sustained by a scrupulous methodology which has always aimed to ensure that the investigation of the past is supported by scientific certitudes and a reduction in the number of casual discoveries. In the exhibition the scientific methodology of the research provides the thread of the exhibition itself. The journey takes us into two well-defined sections: adventure and science, in other words those moments which represent the chronology of the evolution of archaeological science, from the time when archaeology was to a large extent considered an adventure where the taste for faraway legends set in exotic or little-explored places joined forces with uncritical perusal of literary sources and a taste for beauty, finally arriving at the modern conception of archaeology seen as a science, viewed through the lens of the work of Centro Scavi Torino. Apart from the documentary side, the current methods of investigation for the reconstruction of the historic-cultural background and the quality of life of human societies of the past were illustrated thanks to the electronic support. The exhibition did not present any artifacts, but it did have an innovative, driving thread since it operated as a large interactive laboratory of knowledge and experimentation, making the most of its didactic and informative character with the aid of multimedia supports, reconstruction of situations, reproductions, computer simulations, interactive workstations, film shows, etc.

Mediterranean Archaeology

Mediterranean Archaeology
Archaeology in Iraq, Jerash, Beirut, Carthage and Selinus
Turin, Palazzo Lascaris; Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano - Terme di Diocleziano, May 2003

The exhibition, held simultaneously in Turin and Rome, presented with the help of photographs and drawings the main projects of the Centro Scavi Torino which are now under way. In Iraq: the studies and restoration of the Palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh; the proposals for the museological project for the new expanded Iraq Museum, as part of the town planning and architectural project for the City of Culture in one of the historic areas of Baghdad; the latest developments of the B.R.I.L.A. project for the recovery of the treasures of the Iraqi regional museums stolen in the aftermath of the Gulf War; and the laboratory project for the systematic study of the territory, whose aim is to produce a computerized analytical map of its cultural and environmental resources. For Jerash: the latest results of the excavation and survey studies in the area of the so-called Trapezoidal Plaza and the monumental Propylaeum, in the context of a study for a virtual visit to the Sanctuary of Artemis as it appeared in Middle-Imperial times. For Beirut: the most important items of the didactic underpinning for museums which have to illustrate, at the very least, the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad and Ottoman phases up to the French Mandate, affecting the growth of the city itself. For Tunisia: the results obtained at Uthina were presented, also the studies and most innovative proposals for activities in the Cultural and Naturalistic Park of the Maalga and the Punic Ports at Carthage. Finally, for Selinus: the proposals for the Architectural Museum and the Museum for the Selinus Territory.

Shores 2004

Shores 2004
Event promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Mediterranean Observatory
Rome, Palazzo della Farnesina, 2-4 December 2004

The Centro Scavi Torino, in view of its commitment in the work of safeguarding, recovery, study and training in Iraq, took part in the event “Shores 2004”, promoted by the Mediterranean Observatory of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make the importance of the Mediterranean better known as the cradle of diverse civilizations and a crossroads of cultures. The event consequently represented an opportunity for meetings, exchange of views and reflection, creating a forum for dialogue between different cultures, at this time more necessary than ever. Cooperation for the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage, the central theme of the opening day, 2 December, prompted the Centro Scavi Torino to illustrate its work, which has been constant and almost continuous in these last 40 years in Iraq, by means of an exhibition of panels outlining the main activities of the Centro Scavi Torino in the region.

The restoration works of the Italian-Iraqi Institutes

The restoration works of the Italian-Iraqi Institutes
Baghdad, Italian-Iraqi Institute of Archaeological Sciences, December 2001

The work of the Italian-Iraqi Institute of Archaeological Sciences and the Italian-Iraqi Centre for the Restoration of Monuments at Baghdad, is the result of Centro Scavi Torino’s commitment in the field of restoration and future best use. The work was highlighted in a photographic exhibition held in Baghdad in 2001, where the main projects – completed or under way – were illustrated. The work carried out at Seleucia and Choche, Tell Yelkhi, Tell Hassan, Nimrud, Hatra, Kifrin and Babylon in the field of archaeological research, and at Aqar Quf, Ctesiphon, Hatra, Ukhaidir, Ana and Mosul as regards photogrammetric studies, restoration, planning and future utilization, were duly exhibited in the most appropriate of settings: the refurbished headquarters of the Italo-Iraqi Institute of Archaeological Sciences, in the heart of Baghdad.

The land between two rivers

The land between two rivers
Twenty years of archaeology in the Near East. Mesopotamia, a Land of Treasures
Turin, Museo di Antichità, 1985
Florence, Ospedale degli Innocenti, 1986
Rome, Chiesa del S. Michele, 1987

The exhibition organized by the Centro Scavi Torino was a fundamental achievement in the history of Italian studies in the Near East. As Prof. Giorgio Gullini stated in the introduction to the catalogue, the exhibition’s theme is the “twenty years of experiences and activities for conducting research programmes, with constant updating and ongoing improvement of operational methodologies, in the context of a close interaction of physical, mathematical and natural sciences and historical sciences, aimed at reconstructing mankind’s past in moments and places determined from time to time, as thoroughly as possible”. Through original artefacts, reconstructions and illustrative panels, the exhibition analysed some basic aspects of the history of civilization in Mesopotamia, and specifically excavations, funerary customs, anthropological, zooarchaeological and ethnoanthropological elements of the sites of Tell Hassan, Tell Abu Husaini and Tell Yelkhi (Hamrin project), the cultural relations between East and West in the Hellenistic panorama that followed Alexander the Great (Seleucia on the Tigris, Choche, Kifrin), the cultural aspects of the areas adjacent to Mesopotamia (Jerash, the Atrek Valley), without overlooking the field activities of the archaeologists from the Centro Scavi Torino and the guidance, planning and scientific cooperation of the Italian Institutes in Baghdad (the Italian-Iraqi Institute of Archaeological Sciences and the Italian-Iraqi Centre for the Restoration of Monuments).

Department of Oriental Art

Museo Civico di Torino Department of Oriental Art
Torino, Museo Civico di Torino, 1975

In the mid-1960s, the Centro Scavi Torino, four years from its establishment in its current form, prepared the Oriental Art and Civilization Department of the City Museum of Turin. Several items already owned by the museum were moved here, as well as those that represented the achievements of the survey and excavation campaigns conducted by the Centro Scavi Torino in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan (in conformity with the custom of the time, according to which a part of the excavated materials went to the government of the country where the excavations were made and another part went to the excavators). The exhibition of the Gandhara sculptures (from the excavations in the sanctuary of Butkara) and of several objects originating from the first excavations in Iraq (Seleucia and Choche) therefore rendered the city museum an ideal bridge between Turin and Iraq for understanding eastern civilizations.

Masterpieces from the Baghdad Museum

Masterpieces from the Baghdad Museum
Six millennia of Mesopotamian art
Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, May 1965

The exhibition, organized in 1965, displayed several masterpieces from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, enabling the Italian public, at a very early time in the history of cultural communications, to come into contact with over 6,000 years of ancient history through the material documents of an area, Mesopotamia, that is perhaps one of the most interesting in the world from a historical and archaeological point of view. The exhibition therefore marked a first achievement of the extensive research and scientific cooperation activities with Iraqi authorities performed by the Centro Scavi Torino in its 60 years of existence.

Buddhist sculptures from Swat

Buddhist sculptures from Swat
Turin, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, April – May 1963

The purpose of the exhibition, inaugurated in April 1963, was to present material coming from the excavations in the sacred area of Mingora - Butkara, in the Swat region, at the north-western limits of Pakistan. This material was donated by the Centro Scavi dell’ISMEO e di Torino to the Civic Museums at Turin and entered the collection of the Turin Museum as the share of the partition of the findings. The exhibits were mainly reliefs deriving from architectural contexts (cornices, pillars, capitals, antefixes), which decorated the stupas, the characteristic Buddhist religious monuments: the sculptures, in fact, recall with their subjects the legends of the life of Buddha. Their style indicates that they belong to the so-called Gandharan art, a name deriving from one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid empire. This art embodies diverse sculptural works, combining elements of Persian art with influences from India and a significant Hellenistic influence.

Afghanistan from prehistory to Islam

Afghanistan from prehistory to Islam
Exhibition of masterpieces from the Museum of Kabul
Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, July-August 1961

This exhibition, promoted in 1961 by the Centro Scavi dell’Ismeo e di Torino, displayed certain masterpieces, mainly sculptures, from the ample collection of the Kabul Museum. The primary intention was to illustrate, through this important material documentation, the cultural link between the Eastern and Western worlds, which has always been one of the preferred themes among the activities of the Centro Scavi Torino. Afghanistan – at that time the scene of four years of excavation work by Centro Scavi Torino – being a junction between the routes to China and India, has provided a clear example of this confluence of cultures and, at the same time, of all the problems related to the cultural and commercial relationships ascribable to this confluence.

Italian archaeological activities in Asia

Italian archaeological activities in Asia
Exhibition on the results of the archaeological missions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1956-1959
Turin, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, April 1960
Rome, Palazzo Brancaccio, May-June 1960

In 1960 the Centro Scavi Torino (at that time called Centro Scavi e Ricerche Archeologiche dell' ls.M.E.O. e di Torino) organized a didactic exhibition regarding the excavations made in Afghanistan and Pakistan, places very different from each other but linked by very ancient historic relations, from early historic migrations to the great empires of the Parthians and the Sasanians, to Islam, and especially by the presence of Hellenism subsequent to Alexander the Great's campaigns. The catalogue Attività Archeologica Italiana in Asia, Exhibition of the Results of the Missions in Pakistan and Afghanistan 1956-1959 (Turin-Rome 1960), edited by Giorgio Gullini with a foreword by Domenico Faccenna for Mingora, Umberto Scerrato and Dino Adamesteanu for Afghanistan, and descriptive tables by Giorgio Gullini (Udegram), Maurizio Taddei (Butkara) and Umberto Scerrato (Ghazni and Gakatu), illustrates the sites researched in Afghanistan and Pakistan, briefly highlighting the cultural influences, differences and contacts between East and West in the light of Hellenism. The exhibition was a first example of “dialogue with the public”, a bond which the Centro Scavi Torino has always sought and strongly desired in its over 40 years of activity. This first archaeological undertaking in the Middle East was subsequently illustrated, with a liberal display of original pieces, in the exhibition Afghanistan from Prehistory to Islam.