Currently Digital Gandhara Project Academic Advisor at Harvard CAMLab, I held the Operation Manager function from 2005 to 2012 in the French Archaeological Mission in Bāmiyān, led by Pr. Z. Tarzi and subsidized by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Specializing in Afghan-Buddhist archaeology, I have sustained a thesis dedicated to the archaeological and iconographical study of representation of scenes from the life of Buddha and Buddhist imagery in the art of Haḍḍa (Afghanistan), at Strasbourg University in November 2011, and got the title of Doctor in Antiquity Sciences.
Modern : English, advanced concepts in Dari
Old : advanced concepts in hieroglyphic Egyptian and Buddhist Sanskrit.
Expert use of the web, web applications, Illustrator and Photoshop.
After following a general instruction, I chose to focus my studies on Eastern civilizations, and especially on Buddhist archaeology. I first studied Buddhist India archaeology, and then, along with the geographic expansion of the religious community northward, Gandharan archaeology in Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the way to Central Asia. Since 2004, my research has been focused on the art and archaeology of the Afghano-Buddhist monasteries of Haḍḍa, located in actual Afghan province of Jellālābād, and today completely destroyed.
As part of the postgraduate diploma, I studied the iconography of stucco modeling found by J. Barthoux in Haḍḍa (1920’s) and published in Volume VI of the Memoirs of the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (a few issues prevented Barthoux to write and publish the accompanying volume of text to the plates illustrating his discoveries). My research aimed to identify problematics related to the art of modeling of Haḍḍa, and to locate the artistic production of the school in the context of Gandharan art. One of the main lines of research looked at clarifying the differences and similarities between the iconography of schist Gandharan sculptures, and the stucco modelings of Haḍḍa. This work highlighted a striking contrast between idealized and realistic figures, and helped determinating which feelings the Haḍḍa school was sensitive to, and what methods it used to represent them.
My thesis work, dedicated to the representation of scenes from the life of Buddha and buddhist imagery in the art of the monasteries of Haḍḍa, has greatly expanded these topics. It allowed to highlight several original features of this school : the massive use of modeling technique, creating a new three-dimensional composition mode, and the representation of scenes not strictly depicting a particular episode of the canonical legend of Buddha, but completing the decoration by creating a specific atmosphere, or symbolically evoking an episode. This research led me to tackle various problems of archaeology of Gandhāra: the origin of foreign artistic influences, the relationship between the artistic schools in the regions of Taxila, Jellālābād/Haḍḍa, Kabul/Kapiça and Bāmiyān towards Central Asia, and the possible contemporaneity between sculpture schools (schist) and modeling schools (clay/stucco). This study highlighting the three-dimensional representations – technically bold – but also the emergence of ambient scenes, lets think about a possible correlation between changes in imagery, and evolution of Buddhist doctrine towards the mahayanist ideal.
As head of operations in Bāmiyān, I was responsible for the management of local workers (ensure the proper respect for scientific and security procedures, assignment of areas and tasks, management skills), the compliance of diplomatic regulations (permanent communication about the discoveries and the progress of the excavation with the Ministry of Culture, deposit sealing of inventory items in the presence of official bodies) as well as the welcome and guiding of official visitors on site. As a member of the archaeological mission, I also attended cultural and diplomatic events organized for the development of the Bāmiyān cultural heritage by official instances.
At a technical level, I acquired expert knowledge in the field of excavation of earthen and clay constructions (particularly in cleaning small clay stūpa and modelled sculptures), of excavation of stone large stūpa, and of the treatment of graves (urns, tombs, and deposits).
Some objectives of the mission were to understand the circulation inside the monastery, the different stages of constructions and repairs carried out throughout eight centuries of occupation, to research the presence or lack of reliquary deposits at the center of stūpa and around benches, to study the collapse and signs of destruction (fire, stoning, passage of water, etc.), and to understand artistic influences in the art of modeling school of Bāmiyān.
During post-excavation activities, I was in charge of cleaning the modelled sculptures previously consolidated in situ by the team of curators, drawing the restitution of the decor of the monastery, treating of human remains, preserving ceramics and small objects, as well as implementing the inventory and documentation.
Archaeology of the Ancient East, Neolithic in Near East, Indo-European comparative mythology and Biblical archaeology.