UrbRel Postdoc Elisa Iori on RaiNews, Italy

The work of the team of KFG post-doctoral researcher Elisa Iori was recently covered on the Italian news website “Rainews”. As deputy director of the ISMEO-Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan, Iori is undertaking various archaeological fieldwork in the ancient city of Barikot and its hinterland (Swat, NW Pakistan) within the research framework of “Religion and Urbanity” at the aim of exploring the role played by early Buddhism and early monasticism in the formation, transformation and resilience of the polycentric urban model of the north-western regions of South Asia (Swat valley/Uḍḍiyāna) during the 1st millennium CE. This wide chronological frame aims at highlighting continuities and innovations in the long-term interplay between cities and ‘rural’ Buddhist centres, and the related re-conceptualisations of urban spaces and spatialities within different economic and political situations.

The on-going excavation in trench BKG 2-13.

Iori’s research regards three main sets of questions that engage with multiple socio-spatial settings of religion and the urban: 

·      How and what extent did Buddhist spaces and spatialities, traditionally placed in the countryside, release and retain the socio-economic aspects of the urban and urbanity beyond the city boundaries?

 ·      How did the socio-spatial complexities of the city shape urban lived ancient religions in terms of spaces, media of communication and practices? 

·      How did Buddhism and other competing religions cope in terms of ideas, materiality and visibility with the crisis of cities? 

The godown of the Mission House where the non-inventoried objects and pottery from the excavation are stored

The contextual analysis of material culture is based on the archaeological documentation collected in Swat by the ISMEO-IAMP over the past years and on ongoing question-oriented fieldworks. Among the most recent discoveries is that of the most ancient and long-lived urban Buddhist area ever discovered in Gandhara, which sheds new light on early Buddhist architecture and practices in cities.

For some pictures and the full report, see here.

You can also read Elisa’s blog posts on her work in Swat, her previous research on Mes Aynak in Afghanistan and her research on games in Nort-West India.

The Swat river from the hill-top of Barikot.

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