Final International Steering Committee of UNESCO/Japanese Fund-in-Trust for Preservation of Ajina Tepa - Buddhist Monastery on the Silk Road, and Presentation of Central Asia Silk Roads World Heritage Serial Nomination process to International Diplomatic Corps in Tajikistan
The Final International Steering Committee for the Ajina Tepa project is organized by the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office in collaboration with the Tajik National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. In order to sum up the activities of this project as it comes to a close, and to state recommendations for continuing future scientific work, the steering committee will gather international and national experts as well as representatives of the Japanese Embassy to Tajikistan, Tajik authorities and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Dushanbe.
The Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa ("Devil's Mount") played an important role in spreading Buddhism in Central Asia in the seventh and eighth centuries. A 12-metre reclining Buddha found at Ajina Tepa is the largest surviving statue in Central Asia since the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
The project, lasting from 2005-2008, was funded by Japan. The team of experts, including young students from Tajik Technical University, met various goals of the project, including the following:
- A Scientific Documentation Center was established at the Institute of History and Ethnography of the Republic of Tajikistan, where all the related documents, drawings and scientific material are stored.
- Mapping: full three-dimensional documentation of the Ajina Tepa site was conducted and a topographic plan and 3-D photographic materials were made for the whole site.
- Archaeological cleaning was carried out with several efforts toward research.
- Conservation efforts concentrated on the most endangered walls, suffering from erosion, salted soil and underground water.
- Landscape planning was presented by a Japanese expert and will be introduced by the Tajik authorities.
As one of the most representative Buddhist complexes in Central Asia, it is on the priority list of potential sites to be nominated to the World Heritage List from the Republic of Tajikistan.