Paolo Matthiae, born in Roma in 1940, is Professor of Archaeology and Art History of the Ancient Near East in the Sapienza, University of Rome, and is director, since its creation in 1963, of the Italian Archaeological Expedition to Syria of the same University, where he was Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences, and Vice-Rector for the Cultural Initiatives, and is now Director of the PhD School of Archaeology. He is married with Gabriella Scandone since 1964.
Since 1964 he directs the excavations at Tell Mardikh-Ebla, with yearly campaigns, never interrupted, which brought to light the great Early and Old Syrian centre. Always in Syria, he directed excavations at Tell Afis, and Tell Tuqan in the Ebla region, and, with Adnan Bounni, at Tell Fray in the Euphrates Valley.
He is author of several scientific publications about Ebla and the archaeology of pre-Hellenistic Syria, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Palestine. Among them, more than 200 articles in journals all over the world, several monographs about Ebla, and a monumental History of the Art of the Ancient Orient in three volumes, which he is completing with the fourth volume. About Ebla in particular one may recall Ebla. Un impero ritrovato. Dai primi scavi alle ultime scoperte, 3rd ed., Turin, Einaudi, 1977, 1989, 1995; I tesori di Ebla, 2nd ed., Roma-Bari, Laterza 1984, 1985; Gli Archivi Reali di Ebla. La scoperta, i testi, il significato, Milano, Mondadori-Sapienza 2008; Ebla. La città del trono. Archeologia e storia, Torino, Einaudi 2010.
In 1998 he founded, with a group of Colleagues from the main international Universities, the International Congress of the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), which was held in Rome, 1998, and later on, every two years, at Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and London. He is President of the Scientific Committee of the ICAANE.
His pupils, now belonging to more than two generations, teach in the same Sapienza Universities, and in the Universities of Florence, Rome Third University, Lecce, Bologna, Milan IULM, Palermo, Parma, and are active, under his co-ordination, with Archaeological Expeditions working in Syria, but also in Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Iran.
He is member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome), of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (Paris), of the Österreichisches Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna), of the Swedish Royal Academy (Stockholm)I, of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (Berlin). He received the degree Honoris Causa from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and the University of Copenhagen.
He was granted the Syrian Merit, and was appointed (1995) by the President of the Italian Republic Knight of the Great Cross, the highest Italian decoration.