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Luca M. Olivieri

Academic Research Councilor

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 amongst other achievements in the field of training, archaeology and restoration, managed to rebuild the Swat Museum, as well as to restore the colossal Jahanabad Buddha, both damaged during the Taleban insurgency. Recently, Prof. Olivieri's work was honoured with the mention of his discovery of the ancient apsidal temple die barikot in Swat among the 10 most important archaeological discoveries of 2022.

As archaeologist he has been working in Swat (Pakistan) since 1987, where he has been mainly focusing on the still on-going 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 on the early development of archaeological research in Gandhara. Besides that, he is currently busy 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 Gandharan art (c. 50-100 CE), (c) biomolecular archaeology of prehistoric/historic Swat in the first millennium BCE (with Max Planck Institute, Jena), (d) ancient genomics of Swat valley and Gandhara (with Harvard Medical School).

In the context of the latter, he participated as co-author to 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 was trained as field archaeologist (Classical Archaeology) at the school of the "Sapienza" University of Rome. Later he obtained his PhD at the Freie Universität, Berlin (Languages and Cultures of South Asia). So far he has conducted 43 excavation campaigns, 20 restoration and training campaign, and 20 archaeological reconnaissances in Pakistan.

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

Luca M. Olivieri
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