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UCL Qatar hosts leading Chinese and UK archaeologists

15 October 2012

china-delegates


UCL Qatar has played host to a meeting of several senior Chinese and UK archaeologists from the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology, a joint venture between UCL and Peking University in Beijing.

The Doha meeting discussed joint research and teaching programmes in the sector of cultural heritage and archaeology, an area of major interest to Qatar and the wider Gulf region. Plans were explored for the hosting of an international conference on the Origins of Civilisations, examining the similarities and differences between early cultures in China and the Arab world, the two cradles of civilisation in the Old World. UCL Qatar will play an important role in this collaboration, bridging the gap between London and Beijing and contributing a strong regional perspective on the subject.

The International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology, a joint association between the School for Archaeology and Museology of Peking University and the UCL Institute of Archaeology in London, is tasked with bringing China's cultural past to western scholars. The Centre endeavours to promote all aspects of Chinese history and prehistory and strengthen academic links between China and Europe. In addition, the ICCHA regularly hosts world-class conferences, bridge the gap in archaeological thought and theory.

Professor Thilo Rehren, Director of UCL Qatar commented: “China is already a major economic partner of Qatar, with trade worth more than U$ 5 billion last year, and growing fast. However, it shares with Qatar also a strong sense of cultural identity and pride of its culture’s achievements. New excavations bring exciting discoveries every week, and new museums open across the country at a staggering rate. There is also a strong historical link between the Islamic cultures and China, particularly along the famous Silk Road through Central Asia.

“The two world powers have influenced each other in many ways for more than a thousand years. Cooperating with China’s leading university for archaeology and museum studies in Beijing is of strategic interest for UCL Qatar as we develop in line with Qatar’s Vision 2030 to strengthen research capacity and human capital in Qatar, and is based on many years of fruitful cooperation between Peking University and the UCL Institute of Archaeology” Professor Rehren added.

The guests, Professors Zhao Hui, Xu Tianjin, Zhang Chi and Zhang Hai from Beijing and Professors Stephen Shennan and Dorian Fuller from UCL’s home campus in London also enjoyed a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art, where UCL Qatar staff member Dr Tim Power gave an eye-opening tour pointing out the multiple cross-fertilisations between the Islamic world and China, as visible in ceramics, manuscripts, architecture, and more.