I studied Egyptology, Semitics and Linguistics at the University of Turin (Dr. phil. 1979) and got my Habilitation at the University of Göttingen (Dr. phil. habil. 1984). Additionally, I was Associate Professor of Afroasiatic Linguistics at the University of Perugia (1985-1989) and then Professor of Egyptology at UCLA (1989-2000). In 2000, I became Professor of Egyptology at the University of Basel and served as Rector of the University from 2006-2015.
My research interests include Egyptian language and literature, religious studies, and institutional history. Since returning to teaching and research, I have divided my time between Egyptology and higher education management and serve as president of academies and university governing bodies. With Crossing Boundaries, I am interested in issues of authorship (who were the writers of heterogeneous papyri?), of textual structure (what is the compositional logic underlying heterogeneous texts?), and of standardization (in how far is the distribution of texts on heterogeneous papyri regulated by scribal conventions?).