march 2022 musings

Steppe Sisters: early career conference, tashkent september 2022

The Steppe Sisters Network supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will hold a conference for early career researchers at the National Center of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan in Tashkent from September 5-7, 2022. The training workshop is designed to enhance the capacity of women researchers in history, archaeology, ecology and anthropology and create a community of scholars interested in Central and Inner Asian Research. The conference will focus on topics to help early career researchers and students succeed in a wide range of academic fields.’

HOW THE INVASION OF UKRAINE IS AFFECTING CENTRAL ASIA published an article from earlier this month on the economic shifts happening in Central Asian states as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

A recorded video panel from the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) recorded their discussion on the economic effects in Central Asia.

Another panel for The Diplomat discussing What Does Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Mean for Central Asia? Asel Doolotkeldieva, Bruce Pannier, Temur Umarov, and Colleen Wood discuss the economic, political, and diplomatic fallout for Central Asia.

Majlis podcast, RFE/RLmedia-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on how Russian aggression in Ukraine is impacting everyday life in Central Asia’ with guests Asel Doolotkeldieva, Assel Tutumlu, Hamid Ismailov, Bruce Pannier.

«Это будет катастрофа». Где Казахстан возьмет интернет, если Россию отключат от глобальной Сети? “It will be a disaster.” Where will Kazakhstan take the Internet if Russia is disconnected from the global network? An article from Radio Azattyk RFE/RL on changes in access to the Internet in Kazakhstan. On 25 March, Twitter is blocked in Uzbekistan (via @joannalillis).


Statement on heritage in Ukraine by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch: ‘Our Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) is in communication with contacts in-country who have participated in previous First Aid for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis coursework. SCRI also continues its work with the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, our research partnership with the Virginia Museum of Natural History, which is using geospatial information system data to assess damage to cultural sites.’

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to get funds directly to Ukrainian heritage professionals: ‘Global Heritage Fund is joining forces with Europa Nostra and its powerful pan-European civil society network on the ground to support the defenders of cultural heritage in Ukraine as well as those working in the cultural heritage world who have been rendered refugees in their escape from Russia’s brutal aggression.’

Quinn Dombrowski (Stanford University) continues to Tweet (@quinnanya) about the project Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO) which in the month they’ve been running have 1000 volunteers contributing to documenting the digital sites in Ukraine.


Studia Hercynia: Journal of the Institute of Classical Archaeology has published a special issue: Seen from the Oxyartes’ Rock. Central Asia under and after Alexander: Proceedings of the Third Meeting of the Hellenistic Central Asia Research Network. All articles open access!

Brill has published Dilnoza Duturaeva’s Qarakhanid Roads to China: A History of Sino-Turkic Relations as part of the Series Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 8 Uralic & Central Asian Studies, Volume: 28. PDF is open access!! ‘Qarakhanid Roads to China reconsiders the diplomacy, trade and geography of transcontinental networks between Central Asia and China from the 10th to the 12th centuries and challenges the concept of “the Silk Road crisis” in the period between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the rise of the Mongols.’ Before reading the book itself, do take time to read the Acknowledgements which just show the amount of collaboration, discussion, open-mindedness, and scholarship involved in this research.

University of Aberdeen Alumni Relations & Development Trust has posted a video by Dr Joshua Wright, Lecturer in Archaeology,  exploring the archaeology of the Far Eastern Silk Roads on their YouTube channel.

Hou Can’s excavation report of Loulan (Xinjiang) in 1987 to be published this month! See the short biography of the reports history. 侯灿编著:《楼兰考古调查与发掘报告》,凤凰出版社 2022. ISBN 9787550635777 — 侯灿 (1936-2016) —


Local residents find over 1,300 coins minted in XV century in Surkhandarya: According to preliminary data, the found artifacts are the largest and well-preserved treasure of the Mirzo Ulugbek era.

Part of the wall of a historical landmark collapsed in Bukhara.

Roberto Arciero, PhD candidate at University of Leiden writes about his research: Water in the Desert? The Oxus Civilization and the role of the irrigation system. His research ‘aims to investigate how ancient irrigation networks and water resources shaped local agricultural and settlement patterns and how the system changed during the third and second millennia BCE in the Murghab. To answer my research questions, I applied a microscale multidisciplinary methodology to two local areas in the Murghab. I specifically focused on reconstructing, surveying, and dating ancient watercourses and related archaeological sites’.

This is just a great story: A small silver-gilt ‘lidded vessel which contained the Galloway Hoard’s most precious treasures is itself a revelation. For the first time in over a thousand years the detailed surface of the vessel has been brought to light by expert conservation and cutting-edge research.’ Read about the conservation work and what the research has revealed about this special Central Asian object found in Scotland.


The Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts (DiGA) has published A Digitization Concept which ‘highlights the scientific relevance of the collections, describes the data management plan implemented for the photographic documentation of the objects and the indexing of the related metadata. In this respect, it addresses Open Data strategies employed to ensure the interoperability of the database and its long-term accessibility’. The guide is available to download.

UCLPress has published Heritage and Nationalism Understanding populism through big data by Chiara Bonacchi. ‘Analysing millions of tweets and Facebook posts, comments and replies, this book is the first to use big data to answer questions about public engagement with the past and identity politics.’ The PDF is free and the paperback and hardback versions not very expensive. Enjoy!

The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project ( has published a special issue of their research in Levant: The Journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant. All open access. Begin with ‘Documenting heritage in the 21st century: the EAMENA project and its potential for “big data” research in Levantine archaeology’ and go from there. Enjoy!!

Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology are calling for papers (deadline 6 April) for the conference scheduled in Oxford 8-11 August 2022. The Arcadia-funded Mapping Africa’s Endangered Archaeological Sites and Monuments (MAEASaM) and Mapping Archaeological Heritage in South Asia (MAHSA) projects have organised a roundtable session ‘Reaching across the digital divide: towards equitable practice in digital archaeology heritage management’.

Unfortunately, not open access, the article ‘Succeeding CORONA: declassified HEXAGON intelligence imagery for archaeological and historical research’ by Emily Hammer, Mackinley FitzPatrick, Jason Ur is published in Antiquity: ‘Since 2020, a new archive of satellite imagery gathered by the US spy satellite programme that succeeded CORONA—HEXAGON—has become widely available for download via the United States Geological Survey… the authors seek to lower the barriers to accessing and using this imagery by detailing the background, technical specifications and history of the HEXAGON archive’

environment & heritage in central asia

Roundtable studying the Anthropocene in Central Asia: the challenge of sources and scales in human–environment relations has been published (open access!) by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, Irina Arzhantseva, Jeanine Dağyelic, Eva-Marie Dubuisson, Heinrich Härke, Beatrice Penati, Akira Ueda & Amanda Wooden. In Central Asian Survey 41:1.

The Third Pole published an article A tiny shrimp is a lifeline for communities by the Aral Sea: Cultivation of brine shrimp, or artemia, has brought livelihoods back to the West Aral in Uzbekistan, but depends on the lake’s condition remaining stable.

Digital Humanities and the Climate Crisis a manifesto has been published online by ‘…a group of digital humanists, in varying positions and career stages, from the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States, working within well-resourced academic institutions. We know that as individuals and as a community we contribute to the climate crisis. We believe that with our world in the midst of vast and borderless catastrophe, digital humanists have a responsibility to act.’

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