|■Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation Science
|■Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage
On-site training in GPR use at the Boraldai burial mound site.
Lecture on analysis of collected data from geophysical surveys.
On-site training in measurement at the Ken Bulun site.
Five Central Asian countries and China are now proceeding with various activities to facilitate the serial nomination of cultural heritage sites along the Silk Roads in Central Asia as the “Silk Road.” The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) participated in a project to support the World Heritage Serial and Transnational Nomination of the Silk Roads (UNESCO/Japanese Funds-In-Trust project) starting this year and JCICC started various activities in Central Asia. Within the framework of this project, JCICC organized workshops in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic in order to teach and train personnel.
In Kazakhstan, a workshop on methods of geophysical surveying was conducted from September 27th to October 19th in cooperation with JCICC, Nara NRICP, and the Kazakhstan Archeological Expertise Scientific Research Organization. Archaeologists from Kazakhstan as well as from other countries participated in the workshop.
In on-site training during the workshop, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and electrical resistivity imaging were used at the Boraldai burial mound site near Almaty (Photo 1) and the ancient city of Sauran northwest of Turkestan. Trainees were quite enthusiastic (Photo 2) and learned much in a limited time.
Although this was essentially the first attempt at a geophysical survey of archaeological sites in Kazakhstan, results were sufficient to depict buried structures. In the future, the effectiveness of these geophysical survey techniques must be examined and their results must be verified through attempts at various types of archaeological sites and excavations. However, geophysical surveys are sure to be utilized given conditions in Central Asia, where numerous archaeological sites must be surveyed by a limited number of personnel.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, a workshop on measuring archaeological sites was held from October 18th to 24th. Eight experts from the Kyrgyz Republic participated in the workshop, organized by JCICC, Doushishya University, and the Institute of History and Cultural Heritage of the Kyrgyz Republic’s National Academy of Sciences.
After the lectures on the principles and methods of measurement, on-site training was conducted in the medieval city of Ken Bulun (Photo 3). Although the workshop lasted only 1 week, trainees clearly grasped the principles of measurement and learned measuring techniques.
JCICC will continue to conduct workshops in Central Asia to teach and train personnel in the protection of cultural heritage.
Talking with relevant individuals at the Ministry of Culture, the Republic of Armenia
Interview at the Matenadaran
The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage surveyed the partnering country of the Republic of Armenia from February 7–13, 2011. Two experts from the National Research Institute participated in the survey. The survey sought to explore the potential for future cooperation with Japan in safeguarding the cultural heritage of Armenia.
Survey participants visited various institutions involved in protecting and researching cultural heritage such as the Ministry of Culture (Photo 1), which is responsible for the protection of cultural heritage, and the History Museum, the National Gallery, the Matenadaran (the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts) (Photo 2), and the Scientific Research Center of the Historical and Cultural Heritage. Participants gathered information and talked with supervisors. As a result, the survey identified major problems Armenia faces in the area of cultural heritage. The survey revealed that the country has suffered a lack of capital since gaining independence from the former Soviet Union, and the country also has difficulty training personnel due to the demise of its educational system, which depended heavily on Russia. Although the country has material needs such as the need for equipment and the need to construct museums, it must also quickly train personnel to safeguard cultural heritage. Japanese cooperation in the future should take the form of joint research and training with an eye toward training Armenian experts in conjunction with Armenian research facilities.
Historical Research Institute, Relics and Archives Storage Room
Anau ruins, mosque ruins (15th century)
Buddhist statue unearthed at Merv (5th century, exhibited in the National Museum)
Prior to the documentation project (see the monthly report for January), the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation dispatched a preparatory study team to Turkmenistan from February 14 to 18, at the request of UNESCO. This followed discussions with the related people of Central Asiatic countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) in January. The major purposes of this dispatch were to investigate the activities in Turkmenistan with this project, and confirm the research system and archive storage being conducted by those in Turkmenistan.
We discussed the direction in which the project should head in the future and their specific operations with the relevant persons in Turkmenistan. Then we visited Anau, which is one of the candidate sites for registration as a Silk Road World Heritage site, and the national museum, which stores many great artifacts of ancient Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is home to the Zoroastrian ruins and Buddhist temple ruins which are the westernmost of the temple ruins that have been discovered so far, and we can trace the footprints of various kinds of culture there. This area is a treasury of cultural heritages representing areas situated along the Silk Road.
We plan to actively implement studies on cultural heritages in Central Asia including Turkmenistan, and help develop human resources and transfer techniques.
Discussions at Boroldai Tumulus (Kazakhstan), a candidate site for research
Archive of cultural heritage stored in a room of the Ministry of Culture, Tajikistan
China and five Central Asiatic countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) are now proceeding with preparations aimed at the collective registration (cross border serial nomination) of cultural heritage objects along the Silk Road in a World Heritage Site as “Silk Road” . This project supports the application for this registration. Based upon this, the five central Asian countries aim to establish a base for the documentation of cultural assets in each country through the cultivation of talent, exchange of technology, creation of an archive material management system and cooperation towards creating an organization. Before starting this project, we held discussions with the relevant people of the five countries in Central Asia to determine courses of action and other specific information. Per UNESCO’s request, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation participated in the preparation mission by touring these Central Asiatic countries (excluding Turkmenistan) from January 8 to 19. Through this mission, we were made keenly aware of the necessity of support and cooperative activities that suit actual conditions in each country when executing the project. It is because despite all being in Central Asia, there are great differences in the funding, human resources and technical abilities between these countries. It was confirmed that many photos, drawings and reports produced by the investigation of cultural heritage conducted in the age of the Soviet Union were stored in each country. It is hoped that these precious records and materials will be taken advantage of as a shared Central Asian resource through digitization and the compilation of databases.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will participate in this project by investigating remains using the latest equipment, compiling records and materials in database, and supporting and cooperating in the holding of workshops and symposiums. Through this we hope to promote talent and facilitate the exchange of technology with regards to the cultural heritage of Central Asia.
Participation to excavation conducted by Nagareyama City Board of Education
Participation to excavation of Heijo Palace Site carried out by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
The archaeological training of Afghan specialists started in the middle of July as part of the Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site project, and continued until the middle of December. The two trainees, Mr. Ketabhan Faizy and Mr. Ruhullah Ahumadozai, finished their five month long training and left for Afghanistan on December 22. In these training sessions, practical training was done under the cooperation of various organizations, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Buried Cultural Property Research Center, the Nagareyama City Board of Education, and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, as well as the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The trainees worked in the field sites of excavation and study implemented by these organizations and learned methods for excavation and measuring the remains and relics through hands-on practice (see photos 1 and 2). The Afghan trainees sometimes experienced difficulties during the long training sessions in a foreign country, but they not only learned the expert knowledge and skills of archaeology, but also became familiar with Japanese life and culture, and had a productive training period. On December 17, a meeting was held at the Institute to present training results, and the participants reported on what they had learned during training as well as the latest archeological information in Afghanistan.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation plans to continue cooperating in fostering those who will be engaged in conservation of cultural properties in Afghanistan through these training sessions.
Potsherd with seal impressions bearing the image of a seated figure
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been participating in the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust project, “Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikistan” since 2006. As this is the last year of the project, the excavated objects were sorted and the acquired data were analyzed in view of the publication of a report at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan from October 2 to 23, 2008. Most of the excavated objects are fragments of pottery and mud bricks from the 7th to 8th centuries when people inhabited the Ajina Tepa site. In this mission, a piece of the rim of a large jar on which stamp seals had been impressed was found among these objects. There are two seal impressions, one large and the other small. At the center of the large round seal is an image of a seated figure; to its right, as viewed from the image, is a water pot, while to its left is an object that looks like a staff. Although many fragments of large jars have been discovered from the Ajina Tepa site, this is the only piece with such seal impressions. Had the seals been impressed on large jars used for a special purpose? This was a fascinating finding.
The southeast wall facing the courtyard with a stupa that was found by investigation
Cooperative work with young Tajik experts
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation dispatched the 3rd mission of the UNESCO/Japan Trust Fund project, Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikistan from April 16 to May 9. The purpose of this project is the preservation of a Buddhist monastery made of mud bricks and/or pisé. The Center has been removing sand and weeds that have accumulated since past excavations and conducting archaeological cleaning and soundings since 2006 in order to clarify the position and structure of the walls of the monastery.
In this mission, we carefully studied the southeast wall facing the courtyard where a stupa is located, and confirmed the entrance that leads to the room where Parinirvana Buddha had been once placed. In addition, as a result of soundings at two points on the edge of the site, we were able to detect the outer wall of the Buddhist monastery and to confirm its original size. Such results provide information valuable for the conservation of Ajina Tepa. All archaeological investigations made at the site were done with young Tajik archaeologists, whose cooperation was of great help. At the same time, we believe that it was meaningful from the point of view of capacity building of local experts.
UNESCO International Steering Committee Meeting in Tajikistan
The 3rd International Steering Committee Meeting of the “Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikisitan” funded by UNESCO/Japanese Funds -in-Trust was held on 28 August. The project aims at preserving the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, a building complex of earthen structures constructed with pisé or bricks. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has participated in this project since 2005 and conducted archaeological investigation, such as sounding for identification of the extent of the site, and cleaning of debris at the site.
In several expert meetings and the International Steering Committee Meeting the future direction of the project was discussed, based on the working activities conducted so far and the present state of the site. Several points for improvement regarding the preservation of the earthen wall were pointed out and will be examined further. Installation of a shelter for the protection of a stupa was abandoned and covering the stupa with mud plaster was debated instead. Tajikistan authorities expressed their appreciation for activities conducted by Japanese experts and requested the continuation of the work. In response to this request, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation hopes to cooperate in the archaeological work that should be carried out prior to the preservation of the site.
Conservation work at Cave I
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting the “Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site” project with the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan since 2003. This year, the 8th mission of this project was dispatched from June 9 to July 15. In this mission, joint researches with other organizations were conducted in addition to the conservation of mural paintings and archaeological investigation.
For the conservation of mural paintings, previously executed work was continued at Caves I and N(a). At Cave I, mural paintings at risk of becoming detached were reinforced with grouting and edging. Conservation intervention on the mural paintings at Cave I was successfully completed with this mission. At Cave N(a), the mural paintings were reinforced in preparation for the removal of the soot-like black deposits on the surface of the mural paintings that is scheduled to be executed in the next mission.
For archaeological investigation, soundings and survey were conducted in order to determine the extent of the sites requiring protection. Archaeological soundings were carried out at several places of the Bamiyan Valley and a wall possibly dating back to the Buddhist period was found at one of soundings. Surrounding valleys of Bamiyan were surveyed in an attempt to locate unknown sites, and several tombs and castles were revealed These archaeological surveys are important in understanding the Bamiyan sites, of which the Buddhist period tends to attract most attention, in the light of history that continues to the present.
Joint researches were conducted with Kanazawa University, Oyo Corporation and Pasco Corporation on the study of Islamic ceramics, geological investigation and measurement of the caves, respectively. These collaborative researches will be continued and are expected to provide necessary and indispensable information and viewpoints for the protection of the Bamiyan Sites.