Participating Institutions

International Centre for Central Asian Studies, Uzbekistan
Международный институт центральноазиатских исследований

The International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) was established in 1995 as a response to growing interest in the Silk Roads and Central Asian region. Located in Samarkand, the Institute acts as a regional hub for research and heritage management projects, and benefits from access and privileges granted by the host country Uzbekistan. Current member states of IICAS are Azerbaijan China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.  IICAS enjoys continuous support from UNESCO and other international organisations and centres of research. IICAS is the key implementor of CAAL project in the region.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Institute of Archaeology named after AH Margulan, Kazakhstan
Институт археологии им. А.Х. Маргулана

The Institute of Archaeology named after A. Kh. Margulan works under the auspices of the Science Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan. It is the main centre of archaeological research in the country. Beginning in the 1940s, the Institute is home for most prominent archaeologists of Kazakhstan, and is well-renowned for its international collaborations. It also plays a huge role in implementation of state programmes for the inventory and protection of cultural heritage. The Institute has its own museum and a large collection of archive materials.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev. 

Archaeological Expertise, Kazakhstan
Археологическая экспертиза

Established in 2006, Archaeological Expertise is Kazakhstan’s leading commercially funded enterprise, undertaking a spectrum of archaeological work in the region. It employs specialists and researchers with wide range of skills, from rescue archaeology to conservation, and from remote sensing to exhibition design. They undertake projects with national and international significance and contribute to scientific debate on archaeology and heritage management in Central Asia.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Institute Kaz-Project-Restoration, Kazakhstan

The Institute for Kaz-Project-Restoration began in 1981 as the main project design institution for conservation and restoration of monuments in Kazakhstan. Its duties were gradually taken over by other institutions and regional departments in the country. However, during its existence the Institute accumulate a large collection of archive materials and monument passports, which are enormously valuable for the national inventory of monuments. CAAL has been working on the digitising of its archives.  

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

The State Inspection for Protection of Historical-Cultural Heritage of Western Kazakhstan Region

The State Inspection for Protection of Historical-Cultural Heritage of Western Kazakhstan Region (under the Department of Culture of Western Kazakhstan Region) was formed in 1996. It is based in the Department for the protection of monuments within the regional historical museum.  The Inspection leads works in identifying, designating, and protecting sites and monuments in the western part of Kazakhstan. It is responsible for creating and maintaining a digital inventory of sites. It creates monument passports, works with local stakeholders, establishes interpretation panels, and implements state policy for heritage protection.  

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Institute of History and Cultural Heritage, Kyrgyzstan
Институт истории и культурного наследия

Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology named after B. Dzhamgerchinov of the National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyz Republic, is the leading research centre of the country in history and cultural heritage. The Institute started in the 1940s and has long and celebrated association with leading Soviet and post-Soviet scholars researching Central Asia. Current research projects include both tangible and intangible heritage, and provide core contributions to state policy in designation, preservation, and research. Under the leadership of Professor Bakyt Amanbaeva, and with support of the Institute’s Director Professor Abylabek Asankanov, the team of researchers from the Institute actively work with the CAAL project and act as the centre for activities in Kyrgyzstan.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism Kyrgyz Republic
Министерство культуры, информации и туризма Кыргызской Республики

The Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy of Kyrgyz Republic is represented in the CAAL project by the Inspection for Protection of Monuments of History and Culture. The Inspection leads the work on the inventory and designation of monuments in Kyrgyzstan, and ensures the implementation of state policy for the protection of monuments and sites. The Inspection is a key contributor to the digital database of monuments and will house the digital heritage inventory system that is being created collaboratively with the CAAL project.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Cultural Heritage Center, Kyrgyzstan
Центр культурного наследия

Department for Protection and Use of Historical-Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan

The Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan collaborates with CAAL project via its Department for Protection and Use of Historical-Cultural Heritage. This is the dedicated state body for heritage inventory and protection, and it holds an entire set of monument records. The digitisation of those records, and the subsequent country-wide digital inventory, is the main task of the collaboration with CAAL.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography named after A Donish, Tajikistan
Институт истории, археолоии и этнографии им. Дониша

A. Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography, under the National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, is the main national centre for researching archaeology and heritage in Tajikistan. Established in 1951 as the first institution of the newly formed Academy of Sciences, the Institute has worked continuously in all regions of the country, as well as in some neighbouring countries. It has range of international collaborations and long-term research projects, and is the home for many of the great scholars of Tajikistan. In addition to its significant archives, the Institute houses world-renowned collections as part of its National Museum of Antiquities and Museum of Ethnography.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

The National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan

The National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan is part of the A. Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Tajikistan. The Museum holds the main collection of archaeological artefacts and archives in the country. It holds hugely valuable paper records for some of the key monuments of Tajikistan, which are of global significance, and the team at the museum is working on the digitisation of these records in collaboration with the CAAL project.

Complied by Gai Jorayev.

National Directorate for Protection, Research and Restoration of Cultural-Historical Monuments of Turkmenistan

The National Directorate for Protection, Research and Restoration of Cultural-Historical Monuments of Turkmenistan is part of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and is the key state body in documenting and protecting heritage monuments and sites in the country. Through its network of archaeological parks, it covers all the monuments of Turkmenistan and oversees all activities related to their management and research. The Directorate has unified system of monument passports and is working with CAAL project to develop a fully digital geospatial inventory and linked digital archives. 

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”, Turkmenistan

The State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” is the largest archaeological park in Turkmenistan and is responsible for the protection and research of all monuments and sites within Mary region (velayat). The medieval cities of Merv, a UNESCO World heritage Site, is one of the most complex and important archaeological sites in the world, and has been the subject of over 150 years of archaeological research. Today the Park is a centre for research and the base for UCL’s Ancient Merv Project. Park staff carry out high-quality and internationally significant research, and collaborate with CAAL project closely.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Khorezm Academy of Mamun, Uzbekistan
Хорезмская академия Мамуна

The Khorezm Mamun Academy in Khiva was created in 1997 as a symbolic successor to the medieval scientific centre closely associated with Abu Rayhon Beruniy, Mamun Ibn Mamun and many other important scholars and patrons. The Academy quickly established itself as one of the main scientific centres in Uzbekistan and conducts research in numerous disciplines. Its work on the archaeology in Khorezm region includes the Itchan Kala UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an invaluable centre for monument records and archives. Professor Gavkhar Durdiyeva, one of the leading archaeologists and historians of the region, leads the Academy’s collaboration with the CAAL project and substantial work has been undertaken to digitise records and documentation.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Institute of Art Studies, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Институт искусствознания Академии наук Республики Узбекистан

The Institute of Art Studies is part of the Academy of Sciences. It is one of the oldest research centres in Central Asia, with almost a century long history, closely associated with the research of tangible and intangible heritage. Its staff have contributed to some of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Uzbekistan and played a key role in shaping the modern-day culture of Uzbekistan through their work. The Institute currently oversees long-term archaeological research projects and acts as a centre of scholarship that collaborates closely with international organisations and research centres. The Institute holds very significant archives, which include monument records of different periods, and is one of the early supporters and members of the CAAL project.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Department of Cultural Heritage, Uzbekistan
Департамент культурного наследия (ГлавНПУ)

Board of Monuments, Inspections of Bukhara and Navoi, Uzbekistan
Инспекция по защите и охране памятников Бухары и Навои

The State Inspection for Bukhara and Navoi regions for the Protection and Use of Cultural Heritage Sites is responsible for the protection, management and research of sites and monuments in the area. The Inspection holds significant monument records, documentation of conservation and restoration interventions over decades. The Inspection is one of the early supporters of CAAL project and has digitised substantial parts of their archives.   

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Karakalpakstan Scientific-Research Institute of Humanities, Uzbekistan

The Karakalpakstan Scientific-Research Institute of Humanities, within the Karakalpak Department of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, was formed in 2021 as the heir to the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Karakalpakstan. The Institute is the main research centre for archaeology in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan, and undertakes a range of active research projects on the monuments and sites of the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic. It holds significant archives of previous expeditions, including the famous Khorezmian Complex Expedition, and its staff closely collaborate with the CAAL project on the digitisation and systematic documentation of sites in the region. 

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Main Scientific and Production Department for Protection and Use of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan (GlavNPU)

The Main Scientific and Production Department for Protection and Use of Cultural Heritage Sites of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan (GlavNPU) is one of the main centres of research related to monuments and sites in Uzbekistan, with an unparalleled archive of material. In collaboration with CAAL project, it has started to digitise its extensive records. The department is currently undergoing reorganisation.

Compiled by Gai Jorayev.

Northwest University, Xi’an, China

History of the Archaeological Discipline at Northwest University

The Northwest University (NWU) has been undertaking archaeological research since 1938, when the history department’s archaeological committee excavated the tomb of Zhang Qian, the pioneering figure of the ancient Silk Road.  In 1956, NWU formally established an Archaeology programme in teaching and academic research, the second oldest in China.  In response to the urgent need to build capacity for the national museums and in cultural heritage management, NWU established its Museology programme in 1988.  In 1989 this was followed by the creation of a degree in Cultural Heritage Conservation, the first of its kind in China. 

After 67 years of development, the NWU Archaeology has taken full advantage of its unique location: based in ancient Chang’an, and has a mission to reveal the splendid material culture of Chinese civilisations represented by the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties.  This mission embraces the study of the mutual interaction between Eastern and Western civilizations, as connected by the Silk Road, building on the principle of using its “platform in Chang’an, to embrace the western regions of China and beyond, concentrating on Zhou-Qin-Han-Tang Culture and Silk Roads Archaeology”. 

NWU is committed to its academic ‘trinity’: combining teaching, research, and practice. As a result, eight national science and education platforms have been set up at the NWU, funded by China’s Ministry of Education and the National Cultural Heritage Administration.  These include the “China-Central Asia Human and Environment Joint Laboratory” formed under the Belt Road initiative, and the “Key Laboratory of Cultural Heritage Research and Protection Technology”. These laboratories facilitate research and training in archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, physical anthropology, the non-destructive analysis of cultural relics, organic analysis, ceramic and artifact production, and the conservation and restoration of archaeological remains. Laboratory resources also support 3D scanning and modelling, GIS, VR, and other digital cultural heritage studies, and practical training in virtual simulation.  NWU Archaeology has been graded A+ in National Discipline Evaluation (equaled only by Peking University).  Its Archaeology and Conservation degrees were selected for the National Constructing “double first-class” disciplines and universities programme.  

Cultivating Talents and Capacity building

There are 61 full-time academic staff in NWU Archaeology, including 22 professors, 19 associate professors, 22 doctoral supervisors and 2 overseas professors. Eight of these staff are formally recognized as having a leading national-level of expertise (through the award of ‘talent titles’) and 8 have this recognition at the provincial level. There are also 11 post-doctoral research fellows, 10 guest professorships and 57 external tutors.  All are well-established researchers and professors, giving the university a comprehensive and carefully structured capacity across the discipline. The NWU ranks first in Archaeology departments of national colleges and universities in China for the scale of its academic teaching and research staff.

NWU is actively exploring new training models for developing expert professional skills, and some recent collaborations stand out as examples of best practice. For example, the Northwest University-Dunhuang Research Institute jointly established the “Silk Road Grottoes and Earthen Heritage Protection Innovative Talent Training Base”, aimed at enhancing the archaeological research, conservation technology, and cultural heritage management research of the Grotto Temple.  This collaborative Research Institute is developing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research aimed at cultivating special skills in the conservation and management of the Grotto Temples. In another initiative, the “Shaanxi Provincial Joint Graduate Student Training Demonstration Workstation” was established in cooperation with the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology and other institutions.  This is collaborating in postgraduate training, building a healthy stream of skilled professionals to join the heritage conservation community, and improve on the training quality of archaeology professionals.

NWU has undertaken twenty training programmes for the “State Administration of Cultural Heritage Cultural Talent Training Demonstration Base”. Over one-thousand outstanding professionals working in the cultural heritage and museum industries, particularly from the western regions of China, have been trained here.  In the past 67 years, NWU Archaeology has trained more than 6,000 students in specialized skills.  71% of the graduates have devoted themselves to the western region, and 80% work in the frontline of archaeological excavations. The NWU ranks first in the scale of expert training delivered, leading also in the quality of that training, providing strong support for the cultural heritage communities in the western regions of China.  

Another key part of the NWU’s training agenda has been to strengthen international cooperation and build a new model for skills training along the Silk Roads. The China-Central Asia Human and Environmental joint laboratory and other platforms, enhance international exchange, giving full play to the characteristics of different countries and institutions, and jointly cultivating high-level skills in Silk Roads archaeology.  NWU has established research and academic exchange relationships with universities and institutions in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.

In 2018 NWU and University College London set up the NWU-UCL Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology and Heritage. The Chinese government-funded training project at NWU has brought outstanding archaeologists from UK institutions – including Mark Pollard, Julian Henderson, Thilo Rehren, Tim Williams, Dorian Fuller, and Dominic Perring – to NWU to teach over 150 hours per year of international courses. In 2020, NWU as the secretariat initiated the Silk Road Cultural Heritage Protection and Inheritance Alliance, which includes 54 universities and institutes in 17 countries. These activities have created platforms for collaborative archaeological research and heritage studies and have promoted communication between Chinese and international scholars.  In May 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced, at the second meeting between the Foreign Ministers of China and the five Central Asian Countries in Xi’an, that China proposed the establishment of a Collaborative Research Centre for Archaeology of the Silk Roads (CRCASR).  This will be set up at the Northwest University under the leadership of Prof Wang Jianxin, to build an even stronger bond with Central Asian countries on archaeological heritage research for the future.  

Compiled by PANG Rui.

ICOMOS International Conservation Centre, Xi’an, China

For further information see ICOMOS International Conservation Centre website.

The Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China

The Archaeology of Xinjiang: Recording Long last Civilisations  

The Archaeological Institute was established in 1960 as the Xinjiang Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  Following this, in 1986, the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology became an independent public institution, devoted to archaeological excavations and heritage research at the regional level.

In the course of more than 60 years of development, archaeological achievements within the region have gained international attention.  Important discoveries include the Xiaohe Cemetery, the Niya Ruins and the Astana Tombs, which have been included amongst China’s “Top 100 Archaeological Discoveries of the Century”. In recent years, major archaeological discoveries, such as the Ruins of Shichengzi, the Ancient City of Kuiyuke Xiehaier, and the Keyak Kuduk Beacon Ruins, have witnessed the western regions’ engagement with Chinese civilisations, and filled in many gaps in archaeological research along the Silk Road.  Many archaeologists, represented by renowned experts such as Huang Wenbi, Wang Binghua and Yidilis, have made their mark here.

Archaeological Research in Xinjiang: Creating a platform for academic exchange

After sixty years of continuous efforts, the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology has established a systematic, complete, and informative disciplinary system that spans all historical periods and covers the areas north and south of the Tianshan Mountains. Together with Peking University, Renmin University of China, Northwest University, Jilin University, French National Scientific Research Center and other multidisciplinary agencies at home and abroad, the Institute has contributed enormously to the “Archaeology of China” Project.  This collaborative project has tackled major issues such as the history of the development of a shared multi-ethnic Chinese civilisation, expressions of identity and regional culture, and helped describe the archaeology of the Silk Roads.  It provides an interactive exchange platform for academic collaboration, sharing research results for the benefit of all.

Recruiting talents for Xinjiang: Building a first-class professional team

The Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology is the only team in the autonomous region that is qualified to lead excavations, with a current establishment of 70 academic staff and 39 specialized technical staff, in a multi-ethnic family that draws its expertise from all over the country. There are three members of staff who hold professorial titles, nine associate professors, and 18 mid-career research fellows.  One has been awarded the State Council Special Allowance, and three received the autonomous region outstanding expert award.  Many have been honoured by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage as well as the Autonomous Region’s honorary awards. As the backbone of Xinjiang’s cultural heritage and archaeological industry, the Institute has played an irreplaceable and unique role in the research and interpretation of the history of the exchange and interaction of ethnic groups along the Silk Road, and in forging a sense of community of the region.

The achievement and the Future of Xinjiang Archaeology

The archaeology of Xinjiang has brought many rewards. A total of six archaeological discoveries were awarded the “Top Ten” new archaeological discoveries in China; three were awarded the “Top Six” archaeological discoveries by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and one was included in the “Archaeological China” major achievements by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.  Two field projects won the Nation’s Field Archaeology Award; more than 100 archaeological excavation reports, atlases and research monographs have been published, and a number of publications secured national and provincial awards for outstanding achievement.  In recent years, public archaeological activities have spread to the north and south of the Tianshan Mountains, lectures on cultural heritage and archaeology have travelled from the cities to the countryside, and media coverage has increased.  These studies have enhanced and enriched society, and the archaeology of Xinjiang testifies to the ways in which the western regions of China has been a place of exchange and convergence between Eastern and Western civilisations since ancient times, representing the splendid traditions of Chinese culture and its unceasing vitality.

Following the path of the scholars who came before us, we will continue to persevere in our quest to pass on the flame, to trace the traces, to decipher the codes of civilisations, to recount the “historical tales” of the mutual appreciation between the East and the West, and to pave the way to a new era in which the ancient Chinese civilisations will shine with even greater brilliance.

Compiled by PANG Rui.

2020 was a strange year but the participating institutions all worked diligently under sometimes difficult circumstances. We had updates from Tatyana FILMINOVA and her team from the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan and an earlier report from Bakyt AMANBAEVA and her team at the Institute of History and Culture in Bishkek. What have been up to with all those blue notebooks?

Institute of History and Culture, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Институт истории и культурного наследия

Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan ИНСТИТУТ ИСТОРИИ, АРХЕОЛОГИИ И ЭТНОГРАФИИ НАЦИОНАЛЬНОЙ АКАДЕМИИ НАУК РЕСПУБЛИКИ ТАТАРСТАН