Head of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre at University of Oxford Nargiz Pashayeva meets new chief of the university`s Oriental Institute Mark Smith

Oxford, November 11, AZERTAC

Rector of Moscow State University`s Baku branch, co-chair of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, head of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre at the University of Oxford on behalf of Azerbaijan professor Nargiz Pashayeva has met newly appointed head of the university`s Oriental Institute Mark Smith at the Griffith Institute.

The Griffith Institute has been at the heart of Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford for seventy-five years.

It is home to two major research projects, the Topographical Bibliography (Porter & Moss) and the Online Egyptological Bibliography (OEB). The Griffith Institute also houses an archive of 'wonderful things' containing the collective memory and life work of some of Egyptology's greatest scholars, including its founder Francis Llewellyn Griffith, as well as Sir Alan Gardiner and Jaroslav Cerny. Perhaps the most famous are the records of Howard Carter whose name is synonymous with the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The Griffith Institute provides vital resources for the study of the history and culture of ancient Egypt and the Near East.

Professor Smith stressed the importance of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre, saying it is the only officially recognized institution in the UK that studies Azerbaijan.

Mr. Smith thanked professor Nargiz Pashayeva`s support for the activity of the Centre. He also emphasized the significance of studying the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region.

Nargiz Pashayeva hailed the activity of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre, describing its opening as “an important milestone” in terms of promoting Azerbaijan`s scientific heritage internationally.

The idea for the Nizami Ganjavi Programme for the study of ancient languages and cultures of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus at the University of Oxford was born in 2013 when professor Robert Hoyland came to Azerbaijan to visit archaeological sites and was invited to meet professor Nargiz Pashayeva. Their shared interest in education and research resulted in a joint decision to work towards the establishment of a Centre in Oxford that could provide resources for students and scholars from all over the world to come together to investigate and discuss the pre-modern history and culture of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. The first step in realizing this aim has been the creation of the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Programme, which will oversee the excavation of Barda in Azerbaijan, the translation of major works of Azerbaijani and Russian scholarship into English and sponsor a number of graduate students. of the world.

Professor Nargiz Pashayeva also met Members of the Working Group of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Centre, professor of Islamic History Robert Hoyland, Soudavar Professor of Persian Studies Edmund Herzig and doctor Paul Wordsworth at the Ashmolean Museum.

The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford's museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Its world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.

The Ashmolean's collections are extraordinarily diverse, representing most of the world's great civilisations, with objects dating from 8000 BC to the present day. Among many riches there are the world's greatest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of Egyptian pre-Dynastic sculpture and ceramics outside Cairo, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, outstanding Anglo-Saxon treasures, and the foremost collection of modern Chinese painting in the Western world.

Prior to the meeting professor Nargiz Pashayeva toured the museum.

During the meeting they discussed the activity of the Centre, and initial results of archaeological excavations conducted by scientists and experts of the University of Oxford in September.

Doctor Paul Wordsworth said the archeological researches promise newness in terms of studying historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region as well.

The Archaeological Exploration of Barda Project (AEB) aims to chart the development of the late Antique and medieval city of Barda'a, a provincial capital between the 5th and the 11th centuries CE. Very little of the early town is visible among the buildings of the eponymous modern settlement, 17km from the Kura river in the Mil Steppe. The town's most famous extant historical monument is a 14th century mausoleum, now located in a park in the urban centre. Small-scale excavations around the mausoleum in the 20th century revealed layers of occupation from between the 4th-14th centuries CE, including domestic structures and the remains of workshops. Through a new programme of survey and excavation the AEB will reconstruct the layout of the city and its development, in the context of its rural hinterland. The first archaeological reconnaissance and excavation fieldwork of the Archaeological Exploration of Barda (AEB) project got underway in September 2015. The focus of this season's work was to explore the extent of the medieval city, to get a first glimpse of the chronology of its development and understand more about settlement in the surrounding rural zone. Over four weeks, a core team of six archaeologists began to uncover the city's history.

This first season was also an opportunity to explore the possibilities for working with museums in Azerbaijan connected with work. It was possible for to evaluate the extensive collections of the Museum, including holdings from Barda. Dominica D'Arcangelo from Heritage Without Borders firstly led discussions with the National Museum of History to understand about museums collections and current curatorship practice in Azerbaijan. Heading to Barda, Dominica was able to review the excavations and discuss issues of on site and artefact conservation in the context of the current heritage framework in Azerbaijan.

The most prominent monument of Barda is the enigmatic 14th century tomb-tower at the heart of the modern city. One of the characteristic features of the tomb is the repeating motif of the word 'Allah' around the central section of the building in rectangular turquoise tiles on a plain fired brick background. While an inscription (no longer legible) purportedly gave the date of the tower, no name of the tomb is described in the epigraphic bands that decorate the upper and lower parts of the cylindrical structure. Its anonymous purpose has led some to speculate that it is not intended as a tomb at all, but may have had a decorative or military function. The appearance of the tower today is the product of several restoration projects on the interior and exterior fabric of the building, the most recent of which is ongoing.

Doctor Paul Wordsworth said he would represent Nizami Ganjavi Centre at the Annual meeting at the invitation of American Schools of Oriental Research to be held in Georgia of the United States.

The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) is a non-profit organization that supports and encourages the study of the cultures and history of the Near East, from the earliest times. ASOR is apolitical and has no religious affiliation.

ASOR was founded in 1900 by twenty one institutions—including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. Over a century later, ASOR has more than 90 consortium institutions, including universities, seminaries, museums, foundations, and libraries. In addition, it has more than 1,550 individual members.

Professor Nargiz Pashayeva also met Co-Chairman of the Anglo Azerbaijani Society Lord German.

They discussed the current activity of the Society, including its projects.

Professor Nargiz Pashayeva said she will visit Purcell School accompanied by the director and two students of the Music School after Bulbul, expressed hope that the visit would contribute to the development of cooperation between specialized musical schools.

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