october 2022 musings


This little discovery in Kyrgyzstan:

As reported in AKIPress: ‘A joint Uzbek-Italian archaeological expedition discovered the ruins of an ancient defensive structure in Pastdargom district of Samarkand region in Uzbekistan…’

Paleolithic occupation of arid Central Asia in the Middle Pleistocene by Emma M. Finestone et al. in PLOS One.

We are so pleased to congratulate colleagues on the award of a Leverhulme Trust research grant for the project Rivers of the Silk Roads: how water shaped societies and empires in Central Asia. Led by Professor Mark Macklin, University of Lincoln, ‘will examine the role that rivers in the region played in the development of nomadic and urban societies, and empires.’ Read about the project in the Leverhulme Trust magazine, page 17 or on the Lincoln University website.

Getting the word out: WIRED.co.uk published an article Climate Change Is Burying Archaeological Sites Under Tons of Sand: Desertification can wear down ancient ruins or hide them under dunes—leaving researchers scrambling to keep track of where they’re buried by Charlie Metcalf. It focuses on the work by EAMENA – keep up the good work and keep discussing these issues with a wide audience!

Colleagues over at the MAHSA project have terrific tutorials and webinars on the way their project is being conducted in close cooperation with their partners and on utilising historic maps, satellite imagery in close cooperation with archaeologists on the ground throughout the region to create their Arches database. Check out their Youtube channel. Follow them on social for updates from the lab and the field!

DiGA – ongoing work at The Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts Thesaurus ‘has been revised, expanded and restructured to fit a digital use.’

Dr Colleen Wood published a terrific piece in Foreign Policy: Eurasia Is More Than Russia’s Backyard: Viewing recent conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia through the lens of Moscow’s political calculus overlooks important internal dynamics. She calls for the decolonisation of Central Asian nations – recentring the conversation to Central Asian nations and away from ‘Russia’s fringe’.


A World Bank programme: ‘Scaling up the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Program for Aral Sea Basin (CAMP4ASB) by providing support to adaptation activities in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Providing grants to the most vulnerable communities for climate resilient measures in priority areas, including to the poorest populations residing in risk-prone areas, and marginalized groups such as women.’

Press release from CAREC: ‘On October 12, 2022, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) hosted an online regional meeting to agree on the draft of the Regional Statement “Voice of Central Asia” on behalf of the Central Asian governments.’ This continues their efforts to participate and be heard at large international meetings on climate and engage with solutions for the region.

A recent press release from the Climate Action Network: ‘Kyrgyzstan became the first country in the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) region to join the CVF (Climate Vulnerable Forum). The CVF is a platform that brings together the countries most vulnerable to climate change and which produce the least amount of emissions. Together they unite in advocacy at international negotiations, strengthen each other’s positions and set an example of ambitious climate policy.’

The Third Pole published this piece: What is COP27, and why is it so important?: With COP27 coming up in November, here’s what we know so far about this year’s most important climate talks.


ICSM CHC White Paper II: Impacts, vulnerability, and understanding risks of climate change for culture and heritage: Contribution of Impacts Group II to the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change by Simpson, Nicholas P. et al. is available to download.

ICSM CHC White Paper I: Intangible cultural heritage, diverse knowledge systems and climate change. Contribution of Knowledge Systems Group I to the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change by Orlove, Ben et al. is available to download.


The Institut du monde arabe, Paris, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Development of Arts and Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan is hosting a brilliant exhibition from November 23, 2022 – June 4, 2023. Sur les routes de Samarcande. Merveilles de soie et d’or On the roads of Samarkand. Wonders of silk and gold is ‘A collection of unique works, exhibited for the first time outside the museums of Uzbekistan, can be discovered at the IMA. In other words, several hundred pieces, and as many splendors made at the turn of the 20th century, which plunge us into the history and ancestral know-how of a country that is a melting pot of ancient civilisations.’

The Louvre is hosting The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases from 23 November 2022 – 6 March 2023. ‘A large selection of these masterworks will leave Uzbekistan for the first time and undergo special conservation treatment for the exhibition, including monumental wall paintings from the Ambassadors’ Hall in Samarkand and its surroundings, the pages of one of the oldest monumental Korans from the early days of Islam from Katta Langar, in Sogdiana, and other treasures in gold from Bactria (Dalverzin Tepe), silver, silk, and fine ceramics.’


Ways of Seeing: Documenting Endangered Built Heritage in Afghanistan as discussed at a recent symposium on architecture in Afghanistan. The project was presented by Fotini Christia, Professor of Political Sciences and Nikolaos Vlavianos, Graduate Student, MIT who made it clear that things were open access and there is Afghan ownership over choosing the sites and trainings. Nikolaos began by asking ‘how can we avoid flying in foreigners to document sites which is a pretty good way to begin a project as it implies empowering local knowledge and ownership from the outset.

Also discussed at the symposium was the John C. and Susan L. Huntington Photographic Archive of Buddhist and Asian Art. Created by the two art historians and still in the process of being digitised, the collection provides invaluable documentation for sites from ‘ancient Gandhara region in what are now Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Buddhist art created under the Pala dynasty of eastern India and Bangladesh supports discovery and viewing of more than 9,000 photographic images along with architectural drawings and cartography related to those regions.’


Routledge has published The World of the Ancient Silk Road  edited By Xinru Liu

UNESCO Digital Library has made this recent publication available free to read online: Textile and clothing along the Silk Roads edited by Zhao Feng (of the China National Silk Museum). Chapter 20 by Dr Helen Wang The fabric of banknotes: Textiles in and on paper money begins on pg 325. Enjoy!!

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