Through cultural preservation, the United States shows its respect for the cultural heritage and the identity of other nations while also contributing to their tourism and economic development potential. The U.S. Department of State is fortunate to have the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) as an incredibly powerful tool to help us do just that.
Launched in April 2001, AFCP puts out a call annually for projects wishing to receive funding to a limited number of developing countries. The competition is fierce and there is never enough money to fund every project. Even so, AFCP has supported more than 1,200 projects worldwide with nearly $115 million to preserve a wide range of projects, including historic buildings, archeological sites, ethnographic objects, paintings, manuscripts, indigenous languages, and other forms of cultural arts and expression.
We have been fortunate here in Uzbekistan that AFCP has completed 10 projects, investing a total of $897,000. Tash-Hauli Palace is just the latest to reach completion.
We are delighted to be able to contribute to the preservation of Uzbekistan’s fascinating and unparalleled cultural heritage. We believe we are not just supporting Uzbekistan’s rich history, but also its future, by increasing interest in tourism and thereby the country’s economic potential, and by showcasing the expertise of local specialists.
The Abu Raykhan Beruni Institute of Oriental Studies – 2001
This archival collection contains manuscripts and volumes dating from the 17th century which are valuable for the entire Islamic world. Former U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan John E. Herbst presented the Abu Raykhan Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences with a grant to assist with microfilming, photocopying, and restoring the priceless collection of manuscripts.
Conservation and Preservation of a Koran Collection in the State Museum of the Cultural History of Uzbekistan – 2003
The AFCP supported the conservation of approximately twenty Korans, dating as far back as the 11th century AD, in Samarkand’s State Museum of the Cultural History of Uzbekistan. Funding from the grant provided for the renovation of the exhibit itself, including the addition of climate control equipment, lighting, and English translations of the exhibit information.
Preservation of the Kampir-Tepe Fortress – 2005
The AFCP supported the preservation of the excavated area and the documentation of artifacts from Kampir-Tepe Fortress. The site was inhabited from 400 B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. during the Kushan dynasty and was likely used for Zoroastrian ceremonies. Since the site was discovered in 1972, seventy-five percent of it has been excavated. There was urgent need to preserve the excavated earthen structures to prevent irreversible erosion.
Conservation of the Collection of the Tamara Khanum Museum – 2008
Tamara Khanum was a dancer and singer renowned for removing her veil in public during the early 20th century, and is credited with making Uzbek dance a professional theatrical art. The AFCP funded the conservation work on Khanum’s costumes, jewelry, photos, theater posters, letters, and audiovisual recordings documenting her life. Many of the objects in the collection had not been on display before conservation due to their fragile condition.
Preservation of the 18th Century Friday Palace Mosque in Bukhara – 2009
The AFCP supported the preservation of wall paintings and artwork inside the 18th-century Juma Masjidi, one of three historic buildings within an open-air museum complex in Bukhara. Severe fluctuations in temperature had stressed the mosque’s interior wall paintings and decorative wood carvings. The project included the installation of a climate control system to regulate interior temperature and humidity levels so that preservation work could continue.
Preservation of the Wooden Print Block Collection at the State Museum of Art in Tashkent – 2010
The AFCP supported the preservation of a collection of more than 1,400 wooden print blocks, called “kolips,” at the Uzbekistan State Museum of Art in Tashkent. The collection of blocks, once used in the production of printed leather, cotton and silk fabrics, includes designs from across Uzbekistan that were collected by museum staff in the 1930s. This project involved the physical conservation of the wooden print blocks and the publication of a comprehensive illustrated catalog of the collection.
Preservation of unique artifacts dating from the Stone Age to the late medieval period uncovered in the Oasis of Bukhara – 2011
The metal and ceramic artifacts, some of the most important tools for archaeologists to date, have helped researchers interpret the historical technology, trade routes, and daily life of the area. However, the objects were severely deteriorated due to rising groundwater and the salinization of the Oasis. The project included the conservation of ancient wall paintings and other artifacts.
Restoration of the 7th-century Ambassadors painting at the Afrasiab Museum in Samarkand – 2013
Unique in Central Asian art, the “Ambassadors” painting depicting the King of Samarkand was rapidly decaying after a previous restoration in 1980 and subsequent attempts at maintenance. This AFCP project involved the painstaking removal of previous restoration materials, thorough cleaning, and stabilization of the painting’s storage area with climate controls.
Conservation of the 19th Century Tash-Hauli Palace in Khiva – 2019
The AFCP helped restore and preserve the Tash-Hauli Palace in Khiva to its original splendor. The palace was built around 1829-1839 and contains elaborate majolica tiles that can only be seen in Khiva. The ornate wood ceiling, columns, and doors—representations of Khorezmian traditional workmanship—had deteriorated due to harsh weather conditions and previous preservation work that had been carried out improperly.
Conservation of the 15th Century Langar Ota Complex in Qashqadaryo Province is the latest AFCP project in Uzbekistan
Conservation work on the Langar Ota Complex will begin in the fall of 2023. The project will conserve and restore the historic Langar Ota Mosque and Sufi Shrine. For almost 600 years, the complex has played an active role in the religious life of the local and regional community. This project will stabilize and restore this treasure of Uzbek cultural heritage.
Source: U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan