in cooperation with the Japanese Government, has launched
several cultural heritage conservation projects along the
Silk Roads. Three projects in Central Asia (the site of
Fayaz Tepe in Uzbekistan, the Otrar project in Kazakhstan,
and the Krasnaya Rechka, Chuy Valley sites project in
Kyrgyzstan), are already in progress. The recently
approved project (April 2005) for the preservation of the
Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepe (300 kilometers north of
Bamiyan) in Tajikistan is the last project within this
special UNESCO/Japan FIT Silk Roads programme.
The Buddhist site of Ajina
Tepe, which dates back to the 7th and 8th
centuries, is an earthen site situated in the south of
Tajikistan. It was considerably damaged during decades of
neglect after the excavations carried out in Soviet times
and in dire need of emergency consolidation work. The site
possesses great educational potential thanks to the
discovery of a very large reclining Buddha statue measuring
12-meters high, among other priceless objects, now
displayed in the Tajikistan National Museum of Antiquity
in Dushanbe. The physical structure of the Monastery also
The project’s main
objectives are as follows:
A major documentation
and research component will be included in the
project’s implementation. This is clearly lacking in
ex-Soviet archaeology and conservation, and will
provide much-needed information for the better
understanding of the importance of the Buddhist
Monastery of Ajina Tepe within the context of the Silk
Roads. It will also train Tajik experts in the field.
This work will be primarily undertaken in cooperation
with the Tokyo Research Institute.
at the Monastery, which is the centerpiece of the
project, will include the survey and protection of
the site and its surroundings, landscaping, and
public awareness-raising. This part of the work will
be entrusted to Saitama University in Japan, and
with Aachen University in Germany.
Establishment of a Master
Plan for the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepe and
for its maintenance may lead, eventually, to the
inscription of Ajina Tepe on the World Heritage List.
A training and
capacity-building component for Tajik conservation
specialists in the conservation of freshly excavated
sites, which, perhaps most importantly, will teach
archaeologists and conservationists to effectively
work together on a major project.
public awareness-raising related
to Ajina Tepe’s important cultural heritage will
be undertaken during the project implementation.
The first International
Scientific Steering Committee meeting, composed of
representatives from the Tajik National Commission for
UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture, the Academy of Science
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, UNESCO,
the Japanese authorities, and international and national
experts who will lead the project, was taken place in
Dushanbe in September-October 2005, and launched the
project officially, so that 4-years operational field work
can begin in spring 2006.