Paolo Del Vesco

  • MA, PhD
  • Marie Curie Research Fellow

Research Interests

  • Egyptian Archaeology
  • Ancient Egyptian Household Religion
  • Theban Necropolis in the Third Intermediate Period
  • History of Egyptology and near Eastern Archaeology
  • Ethical Issues in Archaeological Practice
  • Archaeological Theory and Methods
  • Computer Applications in Archaeology
  • Ethnography of Archaeology

Current Research Project

MAKAN: Moving Archaeological Knowledge Away from Neo-colonialism

The history of archaeology is tightly intertwined with colonialism. Archaeology of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, in particular, coincided, from the mid-19th century, with the process of colonial appropriation of the Ottoman Empire. Archaeological “campaigns” were conducted side by side with gradual European intrusion, in a "civilizing mission", later relabelled "development assistance". The Middle East became a source both for ancient materials, enriching major Western collections, and for historical antecedents, but remained itself disciplinarily excluded from the recovery of its own past. Even today, despite great advances in methods and technologies, Middle East excavation praxis retains 19th century colonial structures; in Egyptian Archaeology, colonial rule reinforced a rigid exclusion of local inhabitants, recreated by each subsequent generation of archaeologists, of all nationalities including Egyptian. The challenge of giving local inhabitants a primary role in developing and disseminating archaeological knowledge is of the outmost importance for the decolonization of Egyptology.
The project objectives are:

  • a self-critical history of the discipline, through critical archive-based historical inquiry
  • evaluation of current strategies, to propose new approaches for re-connecting local inhabitants with their own expropriated pasts, building on the experience of current Collaborative Archaeologies in different world areas
  • analysis of possible venues for local re-appropriation of pasts, and contribution to constructing accessible virtual and physical spaces for dialogue between formal and informal research communities, focussing on residents of collection-locations and residents of site-locations
  • implementation of multi-site ethnography, designed from Petrie Museum proposed links and collection provenances, addressed to the production of a holistic evaluation report including guidelines for ethics in Egyptian Archaeology projects

Research Directory Records

Educational Background

  • 2010 - 2011  Research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO) in Leiden (The Netherlands)
  • 2008 - 2010  Research fellow at the Egyptology Institute of the University of Pisa (Italy)
  • 2008 PhD in Oriental Studies: Egypt, Near and Middle East (University of Pisa, Italy). Thesis of Egyptology on “Archaeology of Religion in Egypt. Votive Beds and Popular Religion at Thebes during the Third Intermediate Period
  • 2002  MA in Ancient History (University of Pisa, Italy). Thesis of Egyptology on “Tell Nebesheh - Imet, Archaeology of an Eastern Delta Town


  • 2010: Letti votivi e culti domestici. Tracce archeologiche di credenze religiose nell'Egitto del Terzo Periodo Intermedio, Monografie di "Egitto e Vicino Oriente" III, PLUS Pisa University Press, Pisa.
  • 2009: Betrò M., Del Vesco P., Miniaci G. (eds.), Seven Seasons at Dra Abu el-Naga. The tomb of Huy (TT 14): preliminary results, Progetti 3, Edizioni Plus, Pisa.
  • 2006: Il Museo Egizio del Cairo, Skirà editore, Milano.

Book chapters

  • 2009: with Betrò M. and Miniaci G., The tomb of Huy at Dra Abu el-Naga, in Archaeology and Virtual Environments. From Excavations to Virtual Museums and Web Communities, Alinea, Firenze, pp. 33-55.
  • 2009: Archaeological context: formation processes, in Betrò M., Del Vesco P., Miniaci G. (eds.), Seven Seasons at Dra Abu el-Naga. The Tomb of Huy (TT 14): preliminary results, Progetti 3, PLUS Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp. 138-149.
  • 2009: Main Finds from TT 14, in Betrò M., Del Vesco P., Miniaci G. (eds.), Seven Seasons at Dra Abu el-Naga. The Tomb of Huy (TT 14): preliminary results, Progetti 3, PLUS Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp. 152-165.

Articles in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings

  • 2010: A Votive Bed Fragment in the Egyptian Museum of Florence (Italy), Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXXI, pp. 31-37.
  • 2010: I letti votivi e i culti domestici in contesto templare, in Pernigotti S., Zecchi M. (eds.), Il tempio e il suo personale nell'Egitto antico, Atti del IV Colloquio di Egittologia ed Antichità Copte – Bologna, 24-25 settembre 2008, La Mandragora editrice, Imola, pp. 85-98.
  • 2009: Fertility and Eroticism on the so-called Votive Beds, in Erotica, Erotism and Sexuality in Ancient Egypt, Proceedings of the Second International Congress for Young Egyptologists – Lisbon – 23-26 October 2006 (CD release).
  • 2008: Il lato oscuro della guerra: le vittime dimenticate, in Miniaci G., Russo M. (eds.), La guerra e i suoi riflessi nelle società antiche, Atti del Convegno del Dottorato di Orientalistica: Egitto, Vicino e Medio Oriente dell’Università di Pisa – Pisa – 26-27 Giugno 2007, ETS editrice, Pisa, pp. 49-56.
  • 2008: with Betrò M. and Ghiroldi A., Preliminary Report on the University of Pisa 2007 season in TT 14 and M.I.D.A.N.05: Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXX, pp. 23-40.
  • 2007: Fra i cespugli di papiro: il sSS wAD e i letti votivi, in Pernigotti S., Zecchi M. (eds.), La terra, gli uomini e gli dei: il paesaggio agricolo nell’antico Egitto, Atti del II Colloquio di Egittologia e di Antichità Copte - Bologna – 22/23 maggio 2006, La Mandragora editrice, Imola, pp. 59-72.
  • 2007: I letti votivi della collezione del Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College di Londra: Agogé 3, pp. 65-74.
  • 2006: La dea cobra di Imet nel Delta orientale in Pernigotti S., Zecchi M. (eds.) Il coccodrillo e il cobra. Atti del Colloquio Bologna – 20/21 aprile 2005 presso il Dipartimento di Archeologia dell’Università di Bologna, La Mandragora editrice, Imola, pp. 153-166.
  • 2006: with Lippi B., Mallegni F. and Betrò M., Human Remains from Dra Abu El-Naga (Gurna-Luxor, Egypt): Preliminary Paleopathological Investigation: Paleopathology Newsletter, Supplement.
  • 2006: with Betrò M., Missione Archeologica a Dra Abu el-Naga (Gurna, Luxor) Campagne 2004-2005 (III-V): Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXIX, pp. 5-64.
  • 2006: with Bresciani E., Betrò M., et alii, Rome in Egypt: Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXIX, pp. 181-184.
  • 2005: with Melchiorri V. and Oggiano I., Area J in AA.VV. Tell Afis (Siria) 2002-2004: Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXVIII, pp. 76-77.
  • 2005: I libici: “stranieri” nel mondo dell’antico Egitto in Saporetti C. (ed.) Dalla Libia all’Egitto, Supplemento di Geo-Archeologia, pp. 109-117.
  • 2002: Area M: le strutture dell’Età del Ferro in AA.VV. Tell Afis (Siria) 2000-2001: Egitto e Vicino Oriente XXV, pp. 45-47.
  • 2002: with Soldi S., Informatizzazione della documentazione grafica in AA.VV. Tell Afis (Siria) 2000-2001: Egitto e Vicino Oriente  XXV, pp. 7-9.

Exhibition Catalogues

  • 2010: 19 catalogue entries in M. Betrò (ed.), Ippolito Rosellini and the Dawn of Egyptology. Drawings and Manuscripts of the Franco-Tuscan Expedition to Egypt (1828-1829) from the Biblioteca Universitaria di Pisa, Agenzia Italiana Publishing, Cairo, Goldenhouse Publications, London, pp. 101, 103, 109, 111, 113, 115, 117, 119, 122-123, 125, 127, 131, 137, 145, 147, 161, 185, 193, 203-207.
  • 2010: 32 catalogue entries in M. Betrò (ed.), Lungo il Nilo. Ippolito Rosellini e la Spedizione Franco-Toscana in Egitto (1828-1829), Giunti Arte, Firenze, pp. 50, 52, 61-63, 66, 70, 74-76, 83, 90, 94-95, 105-106, 129, 160-163, 184-188, 203-207.

Articles in popular journals

  • 2006: Diario di viaggio. In treno sul Delta, Pharaon Magazine Year II/n. 9-10, pp. 92-101.
  • 2006: I metodi dell’esplorazione archeologica, Pharaon Magazine Year II/n. 11-12, pp. 16-17.
Paolo Del Vesco

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