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Launch of collaborative International Research Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology & Heritage

19 April 2018

Unveiling the plaque for the new UCL-NWU Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology & Heritage. From left: Prof DUAN Qingbo, Prof Sue Hamilton, Prof GUO Lihong, and Prof Dorian Fuller

The UCL Institute of Archaeology and Northwest University (NWU) launched a joint International Research Centre for Silk Roads Archaeology & Heritage at a special event in China last week.

In 2016, the UCL Institute of Archaeology and Northwest University (NWU) renewed their fruitful Memorandum of Understanding to develop collaborative research and teaching.

Both institutions have a long history of Silk Roads archaeology and research. In 1938, NWU scientifically excavated the tomb of Zhang Qian, and from then on archaeologists there have carried out investigative research and excavation along the Silk Roads. Silk Roads archaeology, preservation technologies, and cultural heritage management are now major research directions for NWU.

The Institute has been working in Western and Central Asia for many years, for example, the long-running research project at great Silk Roads city of Merv in Turkmenistan. Work has also been undertaken for the UNESCO serial nomination of the Silk Roads, including the ICOMOS thematic study of the Silk Roads, which created the platform for the current trans-national nominations.

At the event marking the launch of the Centre, Institute of Archaeology Director, Sue Hamilton, indicated:

  • With the creation of a NWU-UCL Silk Roads Research Centre, aspects of cross-boundary research and heritage management can be promoted and realized. The Centre will establish a Steering Group to develop collaborative research and teaching. NWU and UCL have already developed a body of digital data. An early task of the Steering Group will be to identify potential partners/affiliate agencies who could be part of the network”.

Prof GUO Lihong, President of NWU, stated:

  • We have reached a consensus on personnel training, cultural heritage scientific research and international platform building.”

Alongside the Centre, NWU and UCL will establish a new peer review Open Access Silk Roads Journal, with a shared Editorial Board.

Teaching will also benefit, with the development of an MA module on Silk Roads Archaeology, to complement the Institute's existing MA programme in the Archaeology & Heritage of Asia. NWU and UCL are sharing syllabus ideas and course development. The delivery of some teaching at NWU, and student exchange schemes, are envisaged.

It is hoped that the Silk Roads Research Centre will help to promote the large-scale analysis of political, social and economic relationships along the Silk Roads.

Group photo at Research Centre launch: from left: Dr MA Jian (Deputy Director, NWU School of Cultural Heritage), Dr LI Fengqing (Deputy Director, NWU Office of Social Sciences). Prof CHEN Honghai (former Director, NWU School of Cultural Heritage), Dr ZHUANG Yijie (Senior Lecturer in Chinese Archaeology, UCL), Prof DUAN Qingbo (Director, NWU School of Cultural Heritage), Prof Sue Hamilton (Director, UCL Institute of Archaeology), Prof GUO Lihong (President, Northwest University), Prof Dorian Fuller (Executive Director, ICCHA, UCL Institute of Archaeology), Prof TANG Yuming (Director, NWU Office of International Affairs), Dr LV Jianrong (General Secretary of NWU Party Committee Office), Prof LI Wei (General Secretary of Departmental Party Committee), Prof WEN Rui (Deputy Director, NWU School of Cultural Heritage)