"The Silk Road:
Travels and Recent archaeological Discoveries" by
Dr. Christoph Baumer
Thursday, 19 May 2005
2/F Sports House, So Kong Po,
Drinks 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Dr. Christoph Baumer to lecture on the Silk Road. In this lecture, Dr. Baumer tells the story of the Silk Road, the 5,000 mile route through some of the least known and most beautiful regions of the world, all the way from Merv, on the western Iranian border of Turkmenistan, to Xian in China. The route echoes with mighty names from the past, Ghenghis Khan, Tamerlane and Marco Polo, the nineteenth century players of the Great Game of Empire between Britain and Russia and such pioneers as Sven Hedin and Sir Auriel Stein. Dr. Baumer, in a lecture illustrated by his fine photography, follows the route through the Turkmen plains, by the orchards of Bukhara, the mosques of Samarkand, the remote passes of Kyrgyzstan, the windswept expanses of the Taklemakan desert, ending up in the Silk Road city of Xian. Dr. Baumer also outlines the highlights of his own research which has shown that the Tarim Basin, which surrounds the Taklamakan Desert, was not only home to various cities flourishing during the heydays of the Silk Road, but also to mysterious IndoEuropean cultures. He also introduces the faroff, ancient oases of Loulan, Miran, Niya, Karadong, Rawak and Mazar Tagh, including his own discoveries. These include, in Dandan Oilik, an unknown shrine and murals of unique origin. In Endere, he discovered two stone tablets inscribed in the Kharoshthi script dating from 250 A.D., bringing new insights into cultural diffusion along the Silk Road and into the history of the kingdom of Shan. His newest project aims at discovering Old Qiemo, whose last record was written around 650 A.D. The first expedition took place in 2003 in close cooperation with the Archaeological Institute of Urumqi, Xinjiang and relied on satellite pictures and local aerial surveys for its navigation. Although Old Qiemo remains so far a riddle, the expedition managed to find the first archaeological traces discovered so far in this part of the Taklamakan dating from the Upper Neolithic. Dr. Christoph Baumer has travelled extensively in Central Asia, China and Tibet and is a wellknown expert in these areas. On his journeys, he has made important discoveries in art history and archaeology. He has led three international expeditions into the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, in 1994, 1998 and 2003 and is one of the very few scholars having personally investigated all major archaeological sites in the southern and central part of the Taklamakan Desert. He has published several books and papers, in six languages, and has appeared frequently on radio transmissions and in documentaries. Dr. Baumer is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Geographical Society and of the Explorers Club. Dr. Baumer is President of the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia which currently supports archaeological projects in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$50 for Members, HK$100 for Members' guests and HK$150 for others.