Associate Professor of Prehistoric Ethnography of Africa and Professor of Ethnoarchaeology at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
I am currently Associate Professor of Prehistoric Ethnography of Africa and Professor of Ethnoarchaeology at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. An Africanist Archaeologist, I have 30 years of experience working in North Africa, as well as Sudan and Kenya. My research has particularly focused on SW Libyan central Sahara, where I designed and directed 35 archaeological excavations in the frame of the “Libyan-Italian Mission in the Tadrart Acacus and Messak”. Before the beginning of the war in Libya, I designed and directed “The Messak Project. Cultural and natural preservation and sustainable tourism”. My work has also extended to Western Sahara (in 2002-06, with King's College, London, and Norwich University, UK) where I co-directed the first Anglo-Italian Expedition in the Tifariti area. More recently I moved to Tunisia, where in 2014 I established “The Archaeological Mission in the Sahara” based on an ongoing international co-operation(2014-2020) with the Institut National du Patrimoine (Tunis). Here, I have directed archaeological surveys in previously poorly explored regions of the northern Sahara, such as the Chott el Jerid and Grand Erg Oriental. In 2016 upon invitation of the National Museums of Kenya I initiated the first Kenyan-Italian Archaeological Mission, directing research in south-east Lake Turkana (2017-2020). In all these regions I have recorded and studied the archaeological context of art works in close connection with local communities, stakeholders and institutions.
Across this long time span I tried to keep updated my methodological approaches, as the last European Union -funded MSCA project I am supervising on Saharan rock art, aimed at the creation of an open access web atlas of the central regions of the Sahara desert (ASArt-Data). I have been working with Unesco for the implementation of Tadrart Acacus World Heritage Site status. My research interests are all tightly linked to African archaeology. Across my career I have focussed on cultural aspects inthe transition between Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in the Sahara, with focus on pastoral ideology and rock art.
I have always favoured a multidisciplinary approach and my cultural perspective has never been divorced from the hard sciences. I have assisted to liminal changes in theoretical and methodological paradigms in African archaeology and have encountered cultural and political revolutions along my professional pathway. This has shaped my perspective: I experienced and advised on endangers to past heritage as a result of the war and have initiated research projects in the aftermaths of conflict.