Upcoming Academic Events in Bern (Feb. 13-15, 2020), London (March 7, 2020), and Oxford (March 26-27, 2020)

This post covers three events of interest which are taking place shortly in February and March.

The first is the major conference Cultures in Contact: Central Asia as a Focus of Trade, Cultural Exchange and Knowledge Transmission, taking place from the 13th to 15th of February 2020 at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and organised by The Society for the Exploration of EurAsia and the Abteilung für Vorderasiatische Archäologie of the University of Bern.

More information, including instructions for registration and the programme can be found on the conference website. Registration for visitors closes soon, on the 1st of February.

The second event is the 2020 meeting of the Central Asia Seminar Group, on the 7th of March 2020, at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.


This annual meeting provides a relaxed forum for the presentation and discussion of papers by early career and established researchers working on various aspects of Central Asia throughout its history.

For more information on CASG 2020 and how to register (free of charge) please see the meeting’s eventbrite page, and/or contact the organiser David Fallon at c.asiasg.ioa@gmail.com.

Finally, the fourth international workshop of the Gandhara Connections Project, based at the Classical Art Research Centre, University of Oxford, will take place on the 26th to 27th of March 2020, on the topic The Rediscovery and Reception of Gandharan Art at the Ioannou Centre in Oxford.

More information about the workshop, including a provisional version of the programme, and information on registration (free of charge) is available at the project website.

Upcoming Event (with CfP Nov. 15, 2019): Fourth Conference of the Hellenistic Central Asia Research Network: Entangled Pasts and Presents, University of Freiburg, Germany (May 28-30, 2020)


In May 2020, we (the University of Freiburg) will be hosting the Fourth Conference of the Hellenistic Central Asia Research Network, on the theme of “Entangled Pasts and Presents: Temporal Interactions and Knowledge Production in the Study of Hellenistic Central Asia.” More details about the theme and the conference can be found here.

The news about the conference has been circulating for a few weeks through a variety of outlets, so this post is just a final reminder that the deadline for paper proposals is this Friday, November the 15th. Information on submitting a proposal can be found at the link above.

Future Events in Freiburg (Sept. 19-21, 2019), Bologna (Sept. 19-20, 2019), London (Jan. 25, 2020; with CfP), and Oxford (March 26-27, 2020)

This post highlights some future events of potential interest to readers.

From September 19th–21st, 2019 at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, the ERC-funded BaSaR project (“Beyond the Silk Road”, which is also where I work as a postdoctoral researcher) is hosting the conference: Economies of the Edge, Frontier Zone Processes at Regional, Imperial, and Global Scales (300 BCE–300 CE).


The papers in this conference will explore economic processes in frontier zones of ancient empires and their wider impact on inter-imperial exchanges in the Afro-Eurasian world region.

More information about the conference and the latest version of the programme can be found at the BaSaR Project’s website.

For those who are interested, but cannot attend in person, the conference will also be live streamed via YouTube; please check this link or this link from Thursday, September 19th onwards. The conference begins on Thursday, September 19th at 1:00 pm, CEST (GMT +2), and will conclude on Saturday, September 21st at 3:30 pm. The recording of the conference will be available for 24 hours after its conclusion.

The programme is full of exciting papers. Those by Shailendra Bhandare, Joe Cribb, Marek Olbrycht, Luca M. Olivieri, and Sören Stark are likely to be of particular interest to readers of this blog.

At the same time, this week, an important conference is taking place at the Università di Bologna, Il re ellenistico e il saggio indiano. Il Milindapañha e il suo contesto / The Hellenistic king and the Indian wise man. Putting the Milindapañha in its context, from September 19th–20th.

Contributions will explore facets of the Indo-Greek king Menander and the text of the Milindapañha from a number of angles. Further information and details on the exciting programme can be found here.

The Eighth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia will take place in London on Saturday the 25th of January, 2020, hosted by the Royal Holloway and the University College London, and convened by Harun Yilmaz and Gai Jorayev.

The organisers are still accepting submissions for research papers on the theme of History and Historiography of Central Asia, which may engage with any subject within the time frame encompassing ancient history to the year of 1991. All details can be found on the call for papers, which can be downloaded as a PDF here.


The Gandhara Connections project at the Classical Art Research Centre, University of Oxford, have announced the dates of their next international workshop, The Rediscovery and Reception of Gandharan Art.

This will take place in Oxford on March 26th–27th, 2020. More details can be found on the project website, with a workshop abstract and programme to follow.

Recent Titles from Oxford, Saint Petersburg, Prague, and Edinburgh; the “Treasures of the Kushans” Exhibition in Tashkent

The longer the hiatus, the more news to cover! Some important titles published in the last few months are described below, followed by some comments on the “Treasures of the Kushans” exhibition which took place in Tashkent.

First, the long-awaited revised edition of Warwick Ball’s Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan has been released:



Ball, W. (2019) Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan: Revised Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This is an updated and expanded version of the original Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan (1982). The Site Catalogue consists of the original list of sites (to preserve the numbering of the old system) often with new information such as recent bibliography or more accurate coordinates, and is joined by the Site Catalogue Supplement, which includes sites not documented in the original edition. New maps were generated by the University of Chicago Oriental Institute’s Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes.

The book can be purchased here from OUP, and can also be previewed on Google Books.

E. V. Rtveladze’s latest book dealing with the geography of Alexander’s campaigns has also been released:

Rtveladze, E. V. (2019) Александр Македонский в Трансоксиане: походы, историческая география [Alexander the Great in Transoxiana: campaigns, historical geography], Санкт-Петербург: Евразия.


The book is available in Russia through a number of outlets, such as Chitai Gorod, where you can also read the table of contents.

Judging from the contents, the book appears to deal with a number of specialised and hotly-debated points involved in the reconstruction of Alexander’s route through Central Asia. Readers will likely be most familiar with the recently highly-publicised claim as to the identification of the site of Kampyrtepa with the foundation of Alexandria Oxiana. Chapter XXI appears to weigh up the options between Ai Khanoum, Old Termez, and Kampyrtepa, and Chapter XXII reiterates the choice of Kampyrtepa, with further details about the site in the early Hellenistic period. I am curious to read the arguments!

The second volume of the series Reports of the Czech-Uzbekistani Archaeological Mission in southern Uzbekistan has also been released (the first volume being the first report on excavations at Jandavlattepa between 2002-2006, published in 2011):


Stančo, L., and P. Tušlová (eds.) (2019) Sherabad Oasis: Tracing Historical Landscape in Southern Uzbekistan, Prague: Charles University Karolinum Press.

Based on fieldwork undertaken between 2008-2011, this volume draws on extensive archaeological and intensive surface methods of survey to provide an in-depth analysis of settlement patterns of the microregion of the Sherabad Oasis (Surkhandarya Province). The bulk of the book’s volume is a catalogue of archaeological sites in the Sherabad Oasis (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 provides the main analysis of settlement patterns from the Late Bronze Age to the Post-Mongol period, with some comments also on subsequent periods. One important result of this research is the documentation and analysis of the dramatic increase in number of settlements under the Kushan and Kushano-Sasanian periods, indicating also extensive development of the microregion’s irrigation system during this time.

I will post a more in-depth review of this book at a later date.

Sherabad Oasis can be purchased via Karolinum Press or University of Chicago Press.

Last, for titles: from Edinburgh University Press, Volume 2, Issue 2 (October, 2019) of the Afghanistan journal has just been released. It can be found here, behind a paywall. 

All three articles in this issue are likely of interest to readers of this blog, one of which (“Reconsidering Rag-i Bibi: Authority and audience in the Sasanian East” by E. I. Levine and D. Plekhov) is available for free. 

Recently, a short-term exhibition entitled “Treasures of the Kushans” was displayed at the Gallery of Fine Arts of Uzbekistan, in Tashkent, in association with the country’s Cultural Heritage Week.  The exhibition officially ran only from 22.08.19–27.08.19. Its focus was 50 objects from the Kushan-period hoard of 115 gold objects found in an earthenware pot in the floor of room 13 of the residence DT-5 at Dal’verzintepe, during excavations in 1972. This seems to be the first time the hoard objects were publicly exhibited.

Clay sculptures, fragments of murals, pottery and other small finds primarily from Dal’verzintepe and Khalchaian were also included in the exhibition, and retained on display after the gold objects from Dal’verzintepe were removed. A write-up on the exhibition can be found at art-blog.uz (in Russian), with a lot of photographs.

“Kushan treasures” will be shown for the first time in Tashkent
The Russian version of the exhibition poster for “Treasures of the Kushans”, Tashkent

I hope that new professional photographs taken for the exhibition are to be published in some form, as the hitherto published photographs of the hoard objects are not all clear. This is particularly true for the gold ingots from the hoard, 10 of which featured Gandhari inscriptions. New photographs could help in updating Vorob’eva-Desiatovskaia’s readings of these inscriptions, published in 1976.

On the hoard and its archaeological context, see:

Pugachenkova, G. A., and E. V. Rtveladze (1978) Дальверзинтепе. Кушанский город на юге Узбекистана [Dal’verzintepe, Kushan city in south Uzbekistan]. Ташкент: Академия Наук Узбекской ССР (especially pp. 41–42; 46).

And on the inscribed ingots, see:

Pugachenkova, G. A. (1976) “К открытию надписей кхарошти на золотых предметах Дальверзинского клада [On the discovery of Kharoshthi inscriptions on gold objects from the Dal’verzin treasure].” Вестник древней истории 135.1: 64–71.

Vorob’eva-Desiatovskaia, M. I. (1976) “Надписи письмом кхароштхи на золотых предметах из Дальверзин‐тепе [Kharoshthi inscriptions on gold objects from Dal’verzin-tepe].” Вестник древней истории 135.1: 72–79.

Some colour photographs were also published in the French-Russian bilingual catalogue:

Pugachenkova, G. A. (1978) Les trésors de Dalverzine-Tépé. Leningrad: Éditions d’Art Aurore.

Recent Title: Baumer, C. and Novák, M. (eds.) Urban Cultures of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Karakhanids. Wiesbaden.

The proceedings of the First International Conference on Central Asian Archaeology in Bern (2016) have been published, with the full title:

Baumer, C., and Novák, M. (2019) Urban Cultures of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Karakhanids. Learnings and conclusions from new archaeological investigations and discoveries. Proceedings of the First International Congress on Central Asian Archaeology held at the University of Bern, 4–6 February 2016. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

More information, including a full table of contents and front matter, as well as the possibility to purchase the book can be found here. Many abstracts can be found on the academia.edu pages of individual contributors.

This book is packed with interesting contributions of wide historical breadth, organised according to the main Central Asian republic of concern, and focusing foremost on new archaeological data. The contributions likely to be of particular interest to readers of this blog are those dealing with:

The landscape, topography, and settlement planning of Parthian Nisa (C. Lippolis), Sasanian-era settlement patterns in southern Turkmenistan (A. Kurbanov), Uzbek-Italian excavations at Kojtepa (B. Genito), the Hellenistic fortress at Uzundara (N. D. Dvurechenskaya), the question of Urbanism in antique Sogdiana (F. Kidd and S. Stark), Landscape and Urbanscape in ancient Samarkand (S. Mantellini), new excavations at Paikend and Hellenistic-period Sogdian pottery (A. V. Omel’chenko), and sites and settlement patterns of the Inner Syr Darya Delta in the second half of the 1st millennium BCE (G. L. Bonora).

It is also worth noting that excavations at number of sites analysed in this volume are supported by the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia, about which further information is accessibly provided here.

Recent Titles from Edinburgh and Oxford, and Future Events in Bern and Berlin

This post covers some recent titles, and highlights two future events of interest.

First, from Edinburgh University Press, is Volume 2, Issue 1 (April, 2019) of the Afghanistan journal, which can be found here (articles behind a paywall).

Articles of most relevance to readers of this blog are likely to be those on the Central Helmand Archaeological Survey (Marc A. Abramiuk), on the Early Iron Age culture of Sistan (Mitchell Allen and William B. Trousdale), on Fashion Ware in Mes Aynak (Noor Agha Noori, Luca M. Olivieri and Elisa Iori), and on regions and regional variations in Hellenistic Central Asia from the perspective of pottery assemblages (Gabriele Puschnigg and Jean-Baptiste Houal)

Also forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press is Warwick Ball and Normand Hammond’s long-awaited revised and updated version of the classic and accessible survey: Allchin, F. R. and Hammond, N. (eds.) (1978), The Archaeology of Afghanistan, Academic Press: London.

The new edition is presented, with some more information about its contents here.

Out of Oxford, the Classical Art Research Centre’s Gandhara Connections project has published the proceedings of their workshop in 2018:

Rienjang, W. and Stewart, P. (eds.) (2019) The Geography of Gandhāran Art: Proceedings of the Second International Workshop of the Gandhāra Connections Project, University of Oxford, 22nd-23rd March, 2018, Archaeopress: Oxford.

The book is available both in print and through online Open Access as a PDF, and can be downloaded from the project website or Archaeopress, as well as purchased in print from the latter.

It should also be noted that edited webcasts from the third workshop, The Global Connections of Gandhāran Art, University of Oxford, 18th-19th March, 2019, are also now available online at the project website. The commitment of this project to making their results freely available is to be congratulated.

Also out of Oxford is the new catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum’s Gandharan art collection in: Jongeward, D. (2019) Buddhist Art of Gandhara in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Museum Publications: Oxford, which can be purchased here.

On events, next year, from February 13th – 15th (2020), a conference will take place at the University of Bern (Switzerland), entitled Cultures in Contact: Central Asia as Focus of Trade, Cultural Exchange, and Knowledge Transmission, held by The Society for the Exploration of EurAsia and the Abteilung für Vorderasiatische Archäologie at the University of Bern. For reference, the call for papers (deadline was May 15th) is here, and the conference website here.

The conference aims to focus on new archaeological investigations, surveys, and discoveries, although adopting a broad definition of Central Asia (including Mongolia and Southern Siberia), and covering a time frame of the Bronze Age to the end of the 14th century AD. Nonetheless, it is to be expected that numerous papers will be of interest to readers of this blog, and I will post a link to the final programme when it is publicised.

Finally, Turfanforschung at the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities is offering a free summer school later this year, from August 26th – September 6th, on Languages and Cultures on the Silk Road. More information and a programme can be found here

The summer school will introduce Turfan Studies, and focus specifically on two key languages: Sogdian, and Old Turkic. Courses will be taught by staff of the Turfanforschung and the Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften, with additional guest lectures. 

The deadline for applications to register is May 24th.

Upcoming Events: First International Congress of the Eurasian Association of Iranian Studies (Feb. 20-21, 2019), St. Petersburg; Ancient Central Asia in a Context of Eurasian Cultural Space (New Data and Concepts) (Nov. 20-22, 2019), St. Petersburg.

Here, I point to two upcoming events of interest taking place in St. Petersburg this year.

The first is the First International Congress of the Eurasian Association of Iranian Studies, Feb. 20-21, 2019, held at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the State Hermitage Museum. The congress also celebrates the 200th anniversary of Iranian and Oriental Studies in Russia.

The congress website now has abstracts online, in the working languages of Russian, Persian, and English. The scope of this large congress is very wide, but some talks may be signalled of particular interest, such as those on an Achaemenid terracotta fragment depicting a warrior from New Nisa (R. Muradov, V. Nikonorov); on cultural interaction in the eastern Achaemenid Empire via the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum (S.-J. Simpsons, E. F. Korol’kova); and on the chronology of Kafir-kala in Samarkand from coin finds (A. Begmatov).

The second event is a conference dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the birth of Vadim M. Masson, which is Ancient Central Asia in a Context of Eurasian Cultural Space (New Data and Concepts), Nov. 20-22, 2019, held by the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

More information can be found in Russian and English. Working languages are Russian and English, and the scope of the conference ranges from the Neolithic period to the Early Middle Ages, with four proposed broad topics of discussion. It should be noted that an amendment posted to the Russian notice indicates a revised deadline of Feb. 10 for details from interested participants (instead of March 15).

Current Exhibition: National Treasures from Afghanistan, Hunan Museum, Changsha (Dec. 29 2018 – March 29 2019)

The long-running travelling exhibition of selected objects from the National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul has continued its itinerary in China (including Beijing, Dunhuang, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, and Shenzhen thus far) as National Treasures from Afghanistan in the special exhibition hall of Hunan Museum, Changsha, Hunan Province, open to public from December 29, 2018 to March 29, 2019.


Visiting hours are 9:00-17:00, Tuesday to Sunday. The Hunan Museum’s exhibition page (in Chinese) can be found here. Some coverage in English with photos can be found here and here.

Although none of the lacquerware fragments found at Begram are displayed in the travelling exhibition, Hunan Museum is a nice opportunity to also see the some of the famous earlier Han lacquerwares from the tombs at Mawangdui, on display in the Hunan Museum’s permanent exhibition Changsha Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs.

Upcoming Event (with CfP): Boris Kochnev Memorial Seminar on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Numismatics at Hofstra University, NY (March 9, 2019)

On Saturday March 9, the Eleventh Seminar on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Numimatics in Memoriam of Boris Kochnev (1940-2002) will take place at Hofstra University (NY), hosted by the Middle Eastern and Central Asian Program, and organised by Aleksandr Naymark.

Information about this forthcoming event has been circulating on socially-oriented media for some weeks now, although it does not appear that a dedicated web page exists yet.

A PDF of the call for papers has been shared by Robert Bracey here, which invites submissions of titles for proposed talks by Feb. 1, as well as further details about scope, length of talks, and past presenters (featuring established names as well as early-career scholars).

Really looking forward to seeing the finalised programme!

Recent Titles: Kampyrtepa, archaeological research from 2001-2010; Supplement 6 of the HFE Bibliography; Bulletin of the Asia Institute, Vol. 28 2014 (2018).

Although things have slowed down here over Christmas and the New Year, more regular updates are now starting up again.

First, in case anyone has missed them, I wanted to point to some fairly recent titles that have appeared since I last posted:

The first is the edited volume Болелов, С. Б. (ed.) 2018. Кампыртепа — Кушанская крепость на Оксе. Археологические исследования 2001–2010 гг. [Kampyrtepa – Kushan fortress on the Oxus. Archaeological research, 2001-2010]. Нестор История, Москва; Санкт-Петербург. ISBN 978-5-4469-1416-6

bolelov ed 2018 kampyrtepa

This is the first volume of the planned full publication of the excavations of the Tokharistan archaeological expedition at Kampyrtepa, which also involved, between 2001-2011, archaeologists from the Central Asian archaeological expedition from the State Museum of Oriental Art as well as the Bactrian detachment of the Central Asian archaeological expedition of the IA RAN. It is oriented towards more diachronic and general observations about the site. The next volume is signalled to deal with small finds and material culture on a more granular level from the excavations.

Although the official publication date seems to be marked as August last year, the book was introduced formally in December at the roundtable at the IA RAN in Moscow. An electronic version of the book is available for purchase at Nestor History’s website (500 rubles), but payment via bank transfer is difficult outside of Russia. However, useful information, including an excerpt of the book, is also provided there.

The contents, translated into English, are:


Chapter I. History of Kampyrtepa from archaeological data

Chapter II. Fortification of Kampyrtepa in the Kushan period
The fortress wall
The fortress towers
“Military street”
Appendix 1: Dzh. Ya. Il’yasov, A. N. Gorin, K. A. Sheiko. Research on the fortification of the site of Kampyrtepa (from material excavated in 2012)
Appendix 2: N. D. Dvurechenskaya. Southeast fortification unit of the fortress of Kampyrtepa (tower and entrance pier)

Chapter III. Archaeological research at the territory of the “lower city” Kampyrtepa
Archaeological research at the “lower city” of Kampyrtepa

Chapter IV. Bactrian dwellings of the Kushan period from material at Kampyrtepa
Construction techniques and materials
Residential buildings of Kampyrtepa of the Kushan period.

Chapter V. Fortified settlements of Kushan Bactria in light of the excavations at Kampyrtepa


The second title I would like to signal is Supplement 6 of the HFE Bibliography, available to download here:

The full citation is: Mairs, R. 2018. “The Archaeology of the Hellenistic Far East: A Survey. Bactria, Central Asia, and the Indo-Iranian Borderlands, c. 300 BC – AD 100: Supplement 6.” Hellenistic Far East Bibliography Online, http://www.bactria.org, published December 2018.

This includes the addition of recent titles pertaining to Hellenistic Central Asia, as well as items hitherto overlooked in the bibliography.

Finally, it looks like Volume 28 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute (2014 [2018]) has appeared, although the journal’s website has not been updated yet. Judging from the contents page, two contributions could be of particular interest to readers:

Falk, H. “The Five Yabghus of the Yuezhi” (p. 1-44). This is a dense paper which is sure to provoke new debates from multiple avenues.


Dan, A., Grenet, F., and Sims-Williams, N. “Homeric Scenes in Bactria and India: Two Silver Plates with Bactrian and Middle Persian Inscriptions” (p. 195-296?).