On 4-5 October 2011, doctor the International Institute for Central Asian Studies, this along with the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, held the representative international scientific conference ‘The Culture of the Peoples of Central Asia on the Great Silk Road’, in which more than 50 scientists from the states of CIS (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), Asia (Iran, Korea, Pakistan and Turkey) and Europe (Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands and France) participated together with the head of UNESCO in Uzbekistan.
The characteristic feature of the contemporary stage of social development is the growth of the social role of culture as one of the factors organising the spiritual life of people. In this case culture is not only the spiritual experience of the mankind, but also a special reality, constructive and laying down the foundations of truly human existence and the ability to preserve the values and forms of civilised life. The practice of international relations acts as a historically established political form of regulation of intercultural contacts between various countries, in the course of which special bodies and associations can be formed to carry out a more purposeful and wide-ranging policy of interaction between various countries, including the area of cultural activity. UNESCO, with IICAS being one of its elements, has such goals within UNO.
Dr Sh. M. Mustafayev, the Director of IICAS, A. S. Shukurov, the khokim (mayor) of Samarkand, Dr H. E. Espinal, the head of UNESCO in Uzbekistan, U.N. Tashkenbayev, the rector of the Samarkand State University, Prof R. M. Abdullayev, the director of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Dr Mohammad Ashraf Khan, Director of the Taxila Institute for the study of the Asian civilisation under the Quiad-i-Azam University (Pakistan), gave a welcoming speech.
Such outstanding scientists as V. A. Alekshin (Russia), F. M. Asadov (Azerbaijan), M. Kalpakli (Turkey), Yu. F. Buryakov, M. M. Iskhakov, D. A. Alimov, Sh. R. Pidayev and A. E. Berdimuradov (all – Uzbekistan) participated in the work of the conference.
The plenary meeting of the conference was dedicated to the analysis of such problems as the history and ways of formations of the routes of the Great Silk Road, the contacts and cooperation in ancient and medieval times, and the intercultural dialogue and issues of written culture on the Silk Road. Yu. F. Buryakov’s report ‘Of the History of the Formation of the Routes of the Great Silk Road’, in which the scientist presented the results of the studies of the latest historical and archaeological materials, aroused the greatest interest.
Various aspects of integration of the economy and culture of the peoples of the East and West, including exchange of goods with China, the history of ancient towns of Bactria and Sogdiana (Kokand, Kafirkala and others), and political relations between Khasaria and Khurasan in the Middle Ages were discussed in the debates of the first panel format. Scientific versions and creative approaches offered in the course of the debate were quite new and often original; however, they were based on the strict analysis of the documental material.
The second panel meeting included the analysis of the reports reflecting the genesis of the formation of the trade routes and cultural contacts in general, as well as the history of certain directions and points on the Great Silk Road. An interesting material on the issues of historical cartography, on the cataloguing of Samarkand documents and on the analysis of Arabic historical and geographical sources in the context of relations of Transoxiana with the rest of the Moslem world was brought to the attention of the participants. There were reports dedicated to the historical certification of the society in such aspects as chivalry in the Bactrian army and the role of the Turks in the history of the Arabic Caliphate. The report ‘The political integration of the Turks in the Moslem society at the time of the Arabic Caliphate’ by N. Ch. Akhundova (Azerbaijan) aroused considerable interest within the framework of this conference.
Discussions associated with the history of the development of religion on the Great Silk Road concluded the work of the conference. Ancient rudiments in the medieval cultic practice and the spread of Buddhism in Bactria were considered and discussed during this part of the conference together with the problems of contemporary reality, such as the culture of the peoples of Central Asia in the system of the global civilisation, the socio-cultural development of the region in the early 20th century and the philosophy of the cultural reforms in Central Asia and Caucasus in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. It should be noted that the last day was marked by a number of interesting reports. The empiric material of the report ‘Religion on the Great Silk Road (antiquity and Middle Ages)’ by M. I. Filanovich (Uzbekistan) was as rich as original.
In general, the conference was held at a high scientific and theoretical level and was full of vivid discussions, which can be easily explained by the topicality of the declared theme and the high qualification and rich professional experience of the participants. The themes raised at the conference seem important and holding similar forums on a regular basis can enrich the actual materials and broaden contacts between scientists from different countries.
The conference closed with its summary and the words of gratitude to all the participants