I found my way to Central Asia via the classics and the architecture and archaeology of the Hellenistic/Roman eras. During undergraduate studies in history at St. Andrews, I learned about the Minaret of Jam, a beautiful structure and one which motivated further reading and research, drawing me further east to specialise in the Persianate world, specifically, the late 12th/early 13th century Ghurid Dynasty which stretched over the regions of modern-day Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. This has led to beginning an MPhil in Islamic studies and history at Oxford where I am approaching this history using a range of different perspectives and technologies in order to begin to build a more comprehensive knowledge base of this enigmatic empire. I aim to use 3D software to create models of a number of the Ghurid sites to make the period and its people more accessible and better understood. There is a beautiful line from Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) which describes ruins as ‘faded writing in a book’ which captures, for me, the appeal of archaeology and history.

In 2018, I was lucky enough to be involved in a project documenting the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative which piqued my interest in the Silk Roads. This, along with hours spent pouring over maps and books on the region certainly helped draw me towards further study of medieval Central Asia. Remote sensing for CAAL, in my case in Uzbekistan, allows me to have a tangible role in researching and documenting the region which is an incredibly exciting opportunity.

Outside work I can normally be found doing some form of sport, be that running, climbing, weightlifting or rowing, something to blow the cobwebs off after a long day at the computer or in the library. Failing that I am always trying to come up with ways to visit the places that I’ve been reading about or seeing from satellite.

Will left the CAAL project to complete work on his MPhil at Oxford where he has been a part of the Invisible East project, working particularly with the ‘Ghurid documents’.

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