93262 - Archaeology of the Indo-Iranian Frontier

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Luca Colliva

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-OR/16

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Ravenna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History, preservation and enhancement of artistic and archaeological heritage and landscape (cod. 9218)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Feb 01, 2022 to Mar 11, 2022


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to introduce the student to the complex field of archaeology of the Indo-Iranian borderland, a place of important phenomena of intersection between the Iranian and Indian worlds, in the pre-Islamic historical period, through the deepening of a monographic theme, different from year to year, addressed on the basis of the direct examination of historical, literary and archaeological sources, considered in the critical perspective of scientific research. At the end of the course, the student: - has acquired the specific knowledge of the monographic theme dealt with; - has developed the capacity for autonomous judgement in order to deal critically with the vast bibliography existing on the archaeology of the region; - has the necessary learning skills to deal with sources for archaeological research with rigorous methodology.

Course contents

The course concerns a single theme of the archaeology of the Indo-Iranic frontier, studied in a more detailed monographic perspective, with a particular attention towards critics and methodology.
The theme of the 2020-21 course is: "Sistan, the evolution of a satrapy from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period".

The course intends to briefly present, through the analysis of some emblematic cases, the study problems concerning the material culture and the secular and religious architecture of the eastern satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire and their diachronic development through the study of an emblematic case: the Sistan.

The monographic part of the course will be preceded, if necessary, by some introductory lessons on geography and history of the regions examined during the course.

For a better adherence to the methodological perspective of the course of study, some hours will be dedicated to the state of the art, in order to present the main actors of archaeological research.

Some hours will also be dedicated to the knowledge of the main institutions in charge of safeguarding cultural heritage in the area and of the main local and international archaeological collections, in order to illustrate strategies and problems concerning the cultural heritage protection and enhancement in the area.



AA. VV., “L'archeologia dell'Iran. La frontiera Indo-Iranica”, "DAHAN-I GHULAMAN", "KUH-I KHWAJA", "L'archeologia del Subcontinente indiano. La frontiera indo-iranica", "BEGRAM", "HADDA", "KABUL", "KANDAHAR", in Enciclopedia Archeologica, III. Asia, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani,2005. pp. 362-364, 368-369, 378-379, 410-413, 414-423, 580-582, 584-585, 585-586, 587-589. Also available on the website: www.treccani.it.

B. Genito, "Alla ricerca di un’archeologia perduta. Spunti e riflessioni su uno scavo di quaranta anni fa: Umberto Scerrato e il suo Sistan (In Search for a Lost Archaeology. Ideas and Thoughts on a forty years ago excavation: Umberto Scerrato and his Sistan)", in Museo Orientale, Umberto Scerrato, 291-302. Napoli, 2012. http://www.museorientale.unior.it/catalogo/files/assets/basic-html/index.html#toc

Soroor Ghanimati, “KUH-E ḴᵛĀJA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kuh-e-khvaja (accessed on 28 September 2015).

G. Gnoli, "DAHAN-E ḠOLĀMĀN", Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. VI, Fasc. 6, pp. 582-585; an updated version is available online at: https://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/dahan-e-golaman-or-according-to-walther-hinz-p

B. Jacobs, “ACHAEMENID SATRAPIES”, Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2011, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-satrapies

G. Maresca, "Between ‘Early’ and ‘Late’ Iron Age in south-eastern Iran: notes on the possibility to evaluate the ‘Achaemenid impact’ on the area", in Vicino Oriente XXII (2018), pp. 197-211. Also available on the website: http://www.journal-vo.it/Publicazioni/VO%20XXII/VO_XXII_PDF_Autori/VO_XXII_197-211_Maresca.pdf

K. Mohammad Khani, Étude de l’urbanisme des villes achéménides: reconnaissances de surface et prospection géophysique à Dahaneh-e Gholaman (Sistan, Iran), Thèse de doctorat en Langues, Histoire et civilisations des mondes anciens, 2014. Also available on the website: http://theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/lyon2/2014/mohammad_khani_k#p=0&a=title: only the § "3.3.3. Description de l’architecture de Dahaneh-e Gholaman", pp. 105-138.


For non-attending students, the following bibliography is added:

G. Fussman, "KANDAHAR" in Enciclopedia dell' Arte Antica (1995), vol. IV, p. 310. Reperibile anche sul sito internet della Treccani (www.treccani.it)

However, it is strongly recommended that non-attending students contact the teacher to arrange a specific programme and bibliography.


For those who have not already attended courses dedicated to the archaeology of Iran, we recommend reading the following:

J. Wiesehöfer, La Persia Antica, Bologna, 2003.


Among the texts used by the teacher for the preparation of the frontal lessons, BUT NOT REQUIRED FOR THE ORAL EXAM, it is worth mentioning:

R. Boucharlat, "Iran. Sistan-Baluchistan" , in P. Briant & R. Boucharlat, eds., L'archéologie de l'empire achéménide: nouvelles recherches (Persika, 6), Paris 2005, pp. 268-270.

F. Maniscalco, Arachosia. Terra d'incontro tra oriente e occidente, Roma, 2014.

The list will be updated during the course.


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons with direct and critical examination of the archaeological and iconographic documentation through projection of images and distribution of didactic material (when possible also uploaded on the "Virtuale" site).

The aim of the course is to introduce the student to the main problems of the proposed research theme. Emphasis is placed on the methodological approach to research, in order to stimulate critical reflection on the part of the student.

Assessment methods

The examination consists of an oral interview to assess the critical and methodological skills matured by the student and the acquisition of basic knowledge in the field of the archaeology of the Indo-Iranian borderland.

The evaluation will take into account the student's ability to orientate within the sources and the bibliographic material in order to obtain useful information that will enable him to explain themes and problems and to know how to connect them.

In addition to the contents, students will be evaluated on the ability to synthesize and analyse archaeological themes and the ability to express themselves adequately and with appropriate language.

Full acquisition of these skills and an exhaustive knowledge of the matter will be assessed with excellence marks (27-30).

A predominantly mnemonic acquisition of course's contents and discontinuous language and logical skills will be assessed with discrete marks (24-26).

A minimum level of knowledge of the course contents combined with training gaps or inadequate language and logical skills will be evaluated with marks slightly above the sufficiency (18-24).

The absence of a minimal acquisition of the course contents combined with inadequate verbal expression and logical skills will be considered insufficient.

Teaching tools

Projection of images and distribution of didactic material in pdf, when possible also via the "Virtuale" site.

Office hours

See the website of Luca Colliva