Representatives of Turkmen business continue the tradition of patronage in archaeology

Development of science, which is aimed at the provision of strategic national interests, improvement of life quality of the population and social and economic progress of the country, is among the priorities of the state policy of Turkmenistan targeted to the transit to innovative way of the country’s development.

Relative government structures steadily solve such topical objectives as the improvement of the system of training of scientific and engineering personnel, development of applied studies and introduction of innovative developments to production, adaptation of national scientific and educational complex to the conditions of market economy as well as creation of the system of economic or other measures stimulating scientific and technical activity for the achievement of this goal by the order of the Head of the State.

The Academy of Science is financed form the state budget, however the Law of Turkmenistan on Scientific Organizations from November 9, 2012 provides the opportunity to use the fund from business activity of academic structures and other sources, which are allowed by national legislation.

Specific nature of scientific studies in humanitarian sphere does not allow humanitarian scientists to receive statistically measurable economic efficiency from the results of their activities. The outcomes of their work are impossible to be measured in figures as this is about such concepts as the development of social perception, improvement of basic knowledge about human being, it psychology and history, past lessons and forecast of the future.

The science is very complex and multilayer formation and it does not stand still. New opening perspectives are the criteria of its development. The main thing is that whatever remains and has to remain unchanged is the consolidation of creative and intellectual efforts of scientific community around creative ideas and humane principles of Turkmen nation.

All over the world, such scientific disciplines as philosophy, sociology, history, ethnography, archaeology and many other are sponsored by the state or private funds, especially by big private universities of Europe and America.

The spirit of science is an innovation, which gives birth to ideas and discoveries, therefore the desire for new inventions and discoveries is new motivation of the activity of scientists including archaeologists. They regularly report about their achievements at scientific conferences, publish books and articles in specialized magazines and their best discoveries are reflected by mass media.

It is difficult for archaeology to exist without targeted financial support and sponsorship. This is the way it was from the very beginning of the archaeology in XIX century when first sensational findings in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and other countries with ancient history were made owing to certain outstanding patrons and the scientific centres founded by them.

It is worth reminding that the first archaeological expedition in Turkmenistan started working in 1904 in Anau.

First Anau archaeological expedition, owing to which the concept of the Anau Culture has entered to the science, was led by Professor Rafael Pampelli and it was organized by American Carnegie Institute. This nonprofit organization supporting scientific studies was founded 116 years ago by entrepreneur, big steel industrialists, multimillionaire and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and successfully works until our days.

Archaeological expeditions supported by such famous philanthropist as Italian businessman Giancarlo Ligabue who founded Scientific and Research Centre in Venice as well as Leon Levi, the American investor and manager of several private funds, have been organized after the independence of Turkmenistan. Joint Turkmen British expedition led by Professor Georgina Herrmann, supported by the grant of Swiss watch company Rolex, has been working for 10 years in Ancient Merv.

The Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of our country has joined sponsorship support of Turkmen science, especially the archaeology. It was the UIET that proposed the initiative about joint research project that started new direction in versatile activity of Turkmen business. Having received official permit to implement this unique project, the Union undertook all the provision of planned work. Specialists of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Academy of Science were able to start the excavations of Shehrislam one of the most interesting and littlestudied monuments on old caravan road between the oases of Ahal and Khoresm.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wrote about this medieval trade city, which used to be called TakYazyr back then and now is lost in Karakum desert, in his book Turkmenistan the Heart of the Great Silk Road.

It was important commercial city with two citadels and ‘shehristan’ occupying one square kilometre, the author notes. Tak Yazyr was first mentioned by Mahmoud Kashgari in XI century. Famous geographer of the past Muhammed Ibn Nagib Bekran wrote about ‘yazyrs’ and their fortress TakYazyrin his book Jahannama for Turkmen khoresmshakh Tekesh in XIII century.

The written sources have data that the ‘yazyrs’ had special premises in XIII century. The city has been mentioned several times during Mongolian invasion, in particular, RashidadDin (XIV century) mentioned that the troops of Tuli, the son of Genghiskhan, went to Nisan and Yazyr after defeating Merv.

Having described general characteristics of the monument, which ruins are located twenty kilometres north of Baharden, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlighted that the results of archaeological studies indicate that this city was among the biggest trade and craft centres in this part of the Silk Road and played important role in life of the population of that region especially in life of herder tribes.

Such famous archaeologists as Alexander Maruschenko, one of the founders of Turkmen archaeology, Academics Boris Litvinsky and Egen Atagarrieyv did archaeological study on Sehrislam in XX century. It was the materials from Shehrislam that they used to defend their candidate theses. However, there was no opportunity back then for organization of largescale field studies with involvement of greater number of specialists and digger and they did not manage to do much.

It was the decades since then and nowadays, new horizons of science are opened. New expedition of experienced Turkmen archaeologists, who continue the best traditions of their ancestors, has been organized for the resumption of Shehristan excavations.

The Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs helped to make the camp and transport arrangement of the expedition and attracted necessary number of labour from Baharden etrap. In its turn, it solved the issue of the occupancy of young men in rural area.

Educational effect from the work of local residents, especially young men, in archaeological expedition is significant factor. Watching the work of the archaeologists and taking part in these works, young people begin to have better understanding of the priceless cultural heritage that Turkmen nation has and how important to protect and study national heritage, which is very important in patriotic education of growing generation.

Strong walls, caravansaries, ancient water supply system of Shehrislam have been built by Turkmen ancestors around one thousand years ago and without practical experience and special knowledge it might seem to be mute unimportant ruins. The scientists have to put many efforts to fill the gaps in the history of Shehristan and Turkmenistan in general, which was called in the past as the ‘country of thousands cities’.

Therefore, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography continue the excavations of this unique city this autumn with comprehensive support of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The area of works is expanding, archaeologists find more and more rare and valuable artefacts, which help the scientists to reveal some of the mysteries of the past.

Copper, silver and electrum (gold and silver alloy) coins, sample of Chinese porcelain, bracelets and necklaces inlaid with precious and semiprecious stones as well as soft soapstone cauldrons made by Persian craftsmen are distinguished among the findings. All of these indicate close trade and economic contacts of Shehrislam with neighbouring states and high level of development of trade and monetary relations.

Head of the expedition A. O. Berdiyev noted in the conversation with journalists that representatives of Turkmen business continue the traditions of patronage, which takes us back to the past. As is known, Eastern merchants and traders were acted often as patrons and sponsors and supported the development of culture and education of people. It was honour for them to invest to construction of libraries and schools, they imported books, which had the same value as the most expensive goods, they turned oriental bazars into the centres of trade and social life of the cities. It is nice to realize that today, the members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs continue the traditions of the ancestors.

As is known, the State Programme of Archaeological Excavations at the monuments located along the Silk Road in 2018 2021 has been adopted. It was developed by the Academy of Science and National Department for Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments. According to the document, Shehrislam is one of the first objects of detailed study.

There are yet many known and unknown fortresses , cities and standalone hills remained from ancient constructions are scattered around Turkmenistan and waiting for its exploration. Organization of new comprehensive expeditions is required for this. In addition to archaeologists, architects and construction engineers, such expeditions will require the involvement of anthropologists, paleobotany and geomorphology scientists, linguists, ethnographers and other specialists.

Nevertheless, the process of restoration of full picture of the past can be delayed without investments from the businessmen and without active involvement of the patrons. Therefore, successful ally of scientists and the union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Shehrislam has to be an example for other local companies and private entities.

Architectural restoration is another important scientific and practical direction, which exists in Turkmenistan mainly owing to extra budgetary funding and has considerable base foe development. It is related to entire field of studies for provision of further protection of priceless national heritage, which architectural monuments are.

State Historical and Cultural Reserve Ancient Merv founded the laboratory with the support of the UNESCO experts from France and our British colleagues from London University. It studies ancient construction materials, tests different methods of preservation of fragile adobe constructions, which ruins has been suffering for centuries from natural deflation and might be completely lost with time. The training of local personnel is carried out in the Reserve for several years, monitoring of the condition of preserved sections is arranged and other facilities are detected.

Unique laboratory for practical work and training of personnel specialized in restoration of ancient ceramics and metals operates on the base of the State Historical and Cultural Reserve Abiverd in Dushak, Ahal velayat. It was equipped with modern hardware and materials, which was procured by the fund of Leon Levi with the support of Turkmen French archaeological expedition, which carries out systematic excavations of Ulugdepe since 2001.

Owing to the sponsorship and established international cooperation, personnel of historical and cultural reserves improves its qualification at the seminars and conferences held in Turkmenistan and other countries.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov always highlights key role of the science in the formation of modern ideology, building of such life philosophy that correlates historical, social, cultural and spiritual practice with objectives of stable development of Turkmenistan. Therefore, local entrepreneurs and all citizens of the country are interested that future of their children and their business would be provided with harmonic and stable peace established in close union of business and science.

Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper