As part of collaboration between Ancient Merv Project and Heritage Without Borders (HWB) three experienced conservators travelled to Turkmenistan from 27 August to 23 September, 2011. This was aided by kind sponsorship from the Global Heritage Fund and UCL Qatar.
HWB provided support to the excavation team on-site, assessing, stabilising and packing small finds from previous field seasons. They also provided conservation proposals for a number of museum objects and provided training for a small group of Turkmen conservators/museum professionals. HWB in collaboration with Ancient Merv Project staff also looked into the feasibility of setting up a more permanent conservation laboratory on-site at Merv, to carry on the conservation work in future seasons.
An important part of the remit of the Heritage Without Borders project at Merv was to provide conservation training and advice to local conservators and heritage professionals. The four trainees received in-depth training.
activities for 2013 field season are being planned at present;
Ancient Merv Project has a long-term collaboration with different heritage management and research institutions in Turkmenistan and acted as a facilitator for HWB activities in Turkmenistan in autumn 2011. Training and advice provided by HWB conservators was received very positively by different institutions, museums and Ancient Merv Archaeological Park in Turkmenistan. It became clear in discussions with local stakeholders that further training exercises and assistance in materials and equipment will be beneficial both for heritage management and education institutions in Turkmenistan. The country lacks proper conservation training facilities at present. Future training and conservation assistance in Turkmenistan is being planned at present and should take place in spring 2013.
Two major beneficiaries of future projects will be Ancient Merv Archaeological Park and the institute of History of Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. The Park protects one of the most complex and outstanding archaeological remains in the planet, and possesses large collection of archaeological finds which needs conservation efforts. Conservators from the Park and local museum attended 2011 training and are eager to receive more support from HWB trainers. The Institute of History also has large collection of archaeological finds generated by Soviet-Turkmen archaeological mission in the second half of 20th century. Conservation of those finds and training for the Institute’s staff is urgently needed. Also, HWB activities will benefit students of the Institute of Culture, employees of two separate museums, and employees of National Directorate for Protection of Monuments.
The objects that require conservation attention are diverse (metal, glass, pottery and textile) and of very high scientific importance. Some of the objects are in a desperate need for urgent action having been excavated decades ago. Ancient Merv Project and HWB realise the importance of the work that will save important part of the heritage that is currently in peril.
The project aims to provide assistance and training for Turkmen museum and park staff and students who do not otherwise have access to training. It also aims to establish better system for retrieval, storage, conservation and display of the archaeological objects in local institutions.
- Improve preservation conditions and conservation of heritage objects in storage areas and museums
- Provide additional knowledge for students currently studying towards their full degree
- Work with local archaeological parks in order to improve storage facilities and laboratories
Project counterparts in Turkmenistan are established state bodies and are interested in receiving HWB support both in terms of expertise and training. After the positive achievements of the first field season, HWB was asked to provide some more assistance. The next field season will enable HWB to strengthen previously provided trainings and ensure long-term impact.
To ensure wide-ranging impact, trainees have been selected both from professionals (working at the museum and archaeological park) and from students of the local education institutions. The future trainings will aim to attract participants from both groups. This approach will ensure that the trainings are provided not only to professionals, but also to the next generation of conservators in the country. The project aims to train at least six participants in 2013. The training and conservation activities will take place in two locations: the Institute of History in capital city Ashgabat, and the Ancient Merv Archaeological Park located in Mary region.
Some education materials were already translated into local language and translation of more texts is planned for the future. The texts are distributed freely among local beneficiaries of the project. This will ensure that the knowledge on materials, techniques and methods will remain in the country for future reference.
Ancient Merv Project has long-term collaboration with Turkmen institutions and will serve as a bridge between HWB conservators based abroad and Turkmen institutions well after the completion of the project.