Architectural and archaeological monuments remained in Turkmenistan, many of which witnessed turbulent life along ancient trade routes, have much to tell to our contemporaries and descendants. Indeed, due to its geographic location Turkmen land became the main bridge between the Western and Eastern worlds. Important communication channels between the civilizations of Asia and Europe run via our territory. they left bright traces in the form of dozens of cities, hundreds of construction and thousands of artefacts indicating the scale of contacts and achievements of human spirit as well as high skills of craftsmen, architects and artists of the passed centuries.
35 years ago, to attract public attention to the issues of protection of the world cultural heritage, the Assembly of the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which was founded under the UNESCO, declared April 18 as International Day of Monuments and Historical Sites Protection . Ever since, the whole civilized world observes this remarkable day and our country by right can be proud of its achievements in this sphere.
As is known, recently President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took important steps in further development of historical science and improvement national legislation in cultural and ancient monuments protection spheres. It was another demonstration of his efforts in study, protection and improvement of cultural heritage as well as in creation of reliable legal framework for successful solution of the objectives of the specialists in this sphere.
First, this is the Law of Turkmenistan on Protection of National Historical and Cultural Heritage as well as the Order of organization of protection zones of historical, archaeological, urban construction architectural and artistic monuments, natural landscape facilities developed in accordance with the Law of Turkmenistan on Culture and regulating the foundation and protection mode of specially protected territories.
The Resolution on Protection of Immovable Historical and Cultural Monuments of Turkmenistan that approves the Order of coordination procedure of land survey, earth excavation, land improving, economic and other works on the territory of Turkmenistan signed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was another important step.
From now on, legal entities regardless of the ownership and physical bodies performing the works of this kind on the territory of our country have to follow the rules laid down in this document. It is not related to the lands allocated to the citizens for personal household use in rural areas and individual house construction in the cities and villages.
Undoubtedly, it is impossible to foresee occasional findings and discoveries, hence the findings of the objects having the features of historical, scientific, art and other cultural values during construction works shall be reported to National Department on Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments under the Ministry of Culture or to its local branches – the State historical and cultural reserves. For two years after this document has come into force, the expertise of more than 4,000 land plots allocated for new construction was held to verify the presence or absence of hidden monuments.
Nowadays, location maps of historical and cultural monuments as well as historical and architectural layouts agreed with the Ministry of Culture have to be included to the projects of general layouts of the cities and etraps. National department issues the report, based on which the Ministry of Culture approves the plans of new constructions.
According to the Resolution of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of December 23, 2016, special Fund of Protection and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments of Turkmenistan has been founded for the improvement of material base of the Reserves. Its budget is formed from voluntary contribution, donations, transfers from international and regional organizations tourist agencies and other incomes that do not contradict with Turkmenistan legislation.
The investments are to be allocated for restoration, preservation, fortification and restoration of historical and cultural monuments as well as for the development of scientific and design documentation for all these works, drafting of the projects of protection zones around the monuments and inclusion of them into the layouts of cities, villages and other settlements, conduct of historical and architectural studies, fencing of protection areas, their planning and making of relative tourist infrastructure, production of restoration construction materials by ancient samples and propaganda of our heritage.
The work on making of protection zones and information boards around the monuments, renewal of protection obligations of the contracts with farmer associations, organizations and enterprises, which territories have such monuments, is carried out in eight State Historical and Cultural Reserves along with continuing registering of the monuments.
Scientific personnel of National Department on Protection, Study and Restoration of Cultural and Historical Monuments continue historical, architectural, archaeological and art researches as well as topographic, archive and bibliographic studies in close cooperation with relative departments of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. Computer modelling of the facilities under restoration is carried out.
On December 2017, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov approved the State Programme of scientific and research works and archaeological excavation and propaganda of historical and cultural monuments of Turkmenistan along the Silk Road in 2018 – 20121. According to the document, the above-mentioned department and Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan , in particular with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and the Institute of History, started field seasons of the excavations and restorations of several large monuments on the paths of the Silk Road this spring.
These are ancient settlements of Abiverd, Paryz-depe, Shakhrihaybar and Shakhristan in Ahal Velayat, cathedral mosque of Dehistan and Iskander-kala in Balkan Velayat, Kunyaurgench caravansary in Dashoguz Velayat, Amul stronghold and Dayahatyn caravansary in Lebap Velayat, ancient settlements of Dashrabat (Dandanakan) and Big Gyzgala in Mary Velayat. National and foreign mass media has already informed about the first results of these studies and we still have to know about new discoveries and successes of restorers during the year.
International cooperation in archaeological field is also continued. Based on new agreement between the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the studies of two famous ancient monuments – New Nisa in the western outskirt of Ashgabat and Gonur-depe in Karakum etrap of Mary Velayat, are continued.
Joint scientific and research with the archaeologists of George Washington University (Sent Louis, USA) works at the ancient settlements of the Bronze Age Ojakly-depe are about to be started in the old stream of Murgab River. Another Turkmen – American expeditions initiated by the Metropolitan Museum from New York is going to join the excavations of Dandanakan where the group of specialists from the Ancient Merv State Historical and Cultural Reserve is working already.
Another phase of joint project of Turkmen restorers with the colleagues from the Miho Museum (Japan) for study of medieval technology of production of tiling majolica for the dome of Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum is starting in summer. According to the Agreement between the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and the Institute of Intangible Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, new excavation phase of neolith age settlement Yilgynly-depe that existed around 6,000 years ago in Meana Chaach interfluve starts in autumn on the territory of Abiverd Historical and Cultural Reserve.
Oher famous scientific centres of the world express keen interest to the monuments and historical sites of our country and try to establish bilateral cooperation with Turkmen colleagues for the development of historical sciences and increment of the knowledge about the great heritage of Turkmen and our neighbours’ ancestors. All of these visually indicates that Turkmenistan was the centre of the Great Silk Road not only in the past but even today it is extremely important country where owing to home and foreign policy of National leader, all conditions are made for scientific creation, peaceful and safe life, social justice and creative activity of the citizens.
International Day of Protection of Monuments and Historical Sites observed on April 17 is another reason to remind that the Silk Road is not just a history. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlights that in XXI century, our region turns into important link of new models of trade and economic partnership in the continent, which in its turn give opportunities for making the platform of wider cooperation.
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