By Nigar Orujova
The Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center is the only officially recognized institution in the UK that studies Azerbaijan, according to Mark Smith, newly appointed head of Oxford’s Oriental Institute.
The statement was made during a meeting with Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, Head of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center at the University of Oxford, on behalf of Azerbaijan, at the Griffith Institute.
Smith thanked Pashayeva, Rector of Moscow State University’s Baku branch, co-chair of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, for support for the Center. He emphasized the significance of studying the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region.
Nargiz Pashayeva praised the activity of the Center, describing its opening as “an important milestone” in internationally promoting Azerbaijan’s scientific heritage.
The idea to create the Nizami Ganjavi Programme for the study of ancient languages and cultures of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus at the University of Oxford was born in 2013 when Professor Robert Hoyland came to Azerbaijan to visit archaeological sites and was invited to meet Professor Nargiz Pashayeva.
The shared interest in education and research resulted in a joint decision to work towards the establishment of a center in Oxford that could provide resources for students and scholars from throughout the world to come together to investigate and discuss the pre-modern history and culture of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus.
The first step has been the creation of the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Programme, which will oversee the excavation of Barda in Azerbaijan, the translation of major works of Azerbaijani and Russian scholarships into English and sponsor a number of graduate students throughout the world.
Pashayeva also met members of the Working Group of Nizami Ganjavi Scientific Center, Professor of Islamic History Robert Hoyland, Professor of Persian Studies Edmund Herzig and Professor of Clinical Rheumatology Paul Wordsworth at the Ashmolean Museum of art and archaeology.
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford's museum of art and archaeology, whose collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and time.
At the meeting, the group discussed the activity of the Center, as well as the initial results of archaeological excavations conducted by University of Oxford scientists and experts in September.
Head of the Rheumatology Genetics Group at the Botnar Research Center, professor of Clinical Rheumatology Paul Wordsworth said the archeological research promises to uncover new information in studying the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region.
Further, Wordsworth said he would represent the Nizami Ganjavi Center at the annual meeting at the invitation of American Schools of Oriental Research to be held in Georgia in the United States.
Professor Nargiz Pashayeva also met co-chairman of the Anglo Azerbaijani Society Lord German, to discuss the current activities of the Society, including its projects.
Professor Pashayeva said she would soon visit Purcell School, accompanied by the director and two students of the music school after Bulbul, and expressed her hope that the visit would contribute to the development of cooperation between specialized music schools.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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