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Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project “Training Workshop for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Central Asia”

Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project “Training Workshop for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Central Asia”

National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

Kyrgyz

The Ak-Beshim site

2011-Ongoing Human Resource Development
01/04/2014
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BACKGROUND

Project background

Central Asia is situated in the center of the Silk Roads, and is home to a large number of landmarks and properties of high cultural value. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian researchers who led research until then left Central Asia. This left a lack of experts who could assume a leadership position, and deprived young researchers engaging in cultural heritage protection of opportunities to acquire experience at actual sites of excavation, conservation and restoration work.
Based on this understanding, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation in the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo received a commission from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan in 2011 to launch this project—Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project “Training Workshop for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Central Asia”—with the objective of developing young researchers for cultural heritage protection in Central Asia and ultimately safeguarding the cultural heritage of Central Asia.
The Kyrgyz Republic was selected as the host country of the project, as the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has previously established an academic relationship with the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage in the National Academy of Science of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the relationship facilitated the planning and implementation of the project.

Training in the archaeological survey

Training in drawing of excavated artifacts (pottery)

Excavation training

ACTIVITIES

Overview of the project

The project aims to train young researchers engaging with cultural heritage protection in Central Asia jointly with the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage in the National Academy of Science of the Kyrgyz Republic and Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
A series of human resource development workshops on four themes—“documentation”, “excavation”, “conservation”, and “site management”—are planned to be continued over a period of four years, with a focus on the medieval city of Ak-Beshim (known as Suyab in ancient times) along the Chuy valley in the Kyrgyz Republic as the site of training. By studying these four themes, participants are expected to acquire not only knowledge in a specific area such as archaeology, conservation and restoration and architecture, but also wide-ranging, comprehensive knowledge needed for cultural heritage protection. Furthermore, by inviting participants from the five Central Asian countries, the project aims to create a network of young researchers for cultural heritage protection in Central Asia.
In fiscal 2011, two workshops were held on “archaeological surveys” and “drawing of archaeological objects” as topics under the theme of “documentation of cultural heritage,” and training was provided in traverse measurement and levelling, creation of topographical maps, drawing of pottery, stone tools and clay objects, and photo shooting of artifacts.
In fiscal 2012, two workshops were held under the themes of “excavation” and “conservation,” and training was provided in excavation methods, measurement and photo shooting of archaeological features, measurement and photo shooting of artifacts, lifting of fragile artifacts, removal of soil stratigraphy, conservation of metal items, and reconstruction of pottery.
In fiscal 2013, two workshops are planned to be held on the themes of “excavation,” “conservation” and “site management.” The first workshop has already been held from August 27 to September 12, and included practical training in excavation, conservation, and lectures on site management. The second workshop is scheduled to be held in mid-February 2014.
These five workshops were attended by a total of more than 50 young researchers not only from the five Central Asian countries, but also from Afghanistan and Armenia.
In fiscal 2014, the final year of the project, similar workshops are scheduled to be held under the theme of “site management.”

Training in the lifting of fragile artifacts

Training in the photo shooting of excavated artifacts

RESULTS

Future issues

The five workshops that have been held so far highlighted the lack of experience of young researchers in Central Asia. Compared to experts in their 40s and 50s, who received training during the Soviet era, there is no denying that young researchers in their 20s and 30s largely fall behind their predecessors in terms of knowledge, experience and skills.
Nevertheless, the young participants showed strong enthusiasm toward the series of training that have so far been provided and a strong will to actively acquire relevant skills, and the project was able to respond to their needs with detailed training, owing in part to their small number. The training on conservation, in particular, seemed to be viewed as a novel field of study, as no conservation experts yet exist in the country, and captured the participants’ avid interest. Another fruitful result of training was the bonds of interaction that developed among young researchers from the five Central Asian countries.
In Central Asia, there are strong hopes that monuments related to the Silk Roads will be inscribed on the World Heritage List next fiscal year. However, documentation and development of the nominated sites is lagging. For this reason, authorities in Central Asia are voicing their hopes for the continuation of a similar training program after fiscal 2014.
Continued assistance in the field of cultural heritage protection is thus needed in the countries of Central Asia.

Training in the conservation of metal artifacts

Training in the reconstruction of pottery

MAP