18 March 2008
BP on behalf of its co-venturers in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) projects today signed a grant agreement with the US-based Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex and research organization, to implement a cultural heritage programme along the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey pipeline corridor. The programme has two main goals - public outreach and capacity building, targeted at three major beneficiaries of the programme: Gobustan State Historical-Artistic Reserve , the Azerbaijan Institute of Archaeology and the Ethnography and Georgia National Museum. “BP and its co-ventures are pleased to be able to play a role in preservation of the cultural heritage of these countries which take their rightful place in the history of world civilization. We believe the results of the programme will substantially add to the opportunities for international recognition of not only the BTC and SCP archaeological discoveries but also the cultural heritage of the countries along the pipelines,” says Bill Schrader, President, BP Azerbaijan. The total value of the programme is just over $1 million and its duration is two years. The public outreach component of the programme will be implemented via a number of activities. These include:
- publication of 1000 copies of a catalogue on the cultural heritage programme and on the artefacts discovered in the three countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey) along the BTC/SCP route. The catalogue will be published in four languages: Azerbaijani, Georgian, Turkish and English
- creation of a BTC/SCP cultural heritage website as means for public outreach. This website will describe the BTC/SCP Cultural Heritage Programme and introduce the artefacts discovered in the three countries along the BTC/SCP pipelines in an interactive way which will be accessible to broad public;
- an international conference on topics relating to the interpretation of cultural heritage discoveries along the BTC/SCP pipelines corridor. The conference will give an opportunity for the experts involved in the BTC/SCP archaeological excavation works as well as those from the three countries and around the world to analyze and interpret the BTC/SCP findings in a manner consistent with the international practice. The cross-country conference will also compare analytical procedures and curatorship practices and findings across the three countries. The conference papers will be then published; and
- completion of the final phase of the BTC/SCP cultural heritage programme on technical reporting and analysis.
The capacity building component of the programme will be implemented via a number of activities including internships, training, workshops, and lectures for the staff of Gobustan State Historical-Artistic Reserve, the Azerbaijan Institute of Archaeology and the Ethnography and Georgia National Museum. It is planned that representatives of the beneficiary institutions will be trained on museum management, collection processing, artefacts handling, assessment of the damage to the rock arts; proper documentation and registering of monuments; storage and protection of materials applying new computer technologies and programmes; management of collections of scientific, literary and historical value; exhibitions management; and sustainable tourism development. In addition, a survey of fauna and flora (including ethnobiological data) will be conducted for Gobustan Reserve in cooperation with Azerbaijan’s local institutions. Note to Editors:
- BTC and SCP sponsored in Azerbaijan and Georgia the first major archaeological excavation programme since the fall of the Soviet Union;
- the cultural heritage programme has grown from 4 to 54 (archaeological) sites - a considerable challenge and undertaking by BP and its co-venturers in BTC and SCP ;
- significant scientific knowledge was gained from investigating the heritage sites across the countries, some of them bearing national and regional significance ;
- a large number of priceless artefacts collected to be stored, studied and preserved for future generations;
- international and national experts have worked together sharing ideas and advancing relevant scientific methodology in Azerbaijan;
- significant capacity development has been achieved in the area of museum curatorship.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research complex. It includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. The total number of artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian's collections is estimated at 137 million. The bulk of this material - more than 126 million specimens and artefacts - is part of the National Museum of Natural History. In addition, the Smithsonian maintains 1.5 million library volumes, including rare books and 89,000 cubic feet of archival material. For further information please contact: Tamam Bayatly, BP Baku Press office, telephone: 994 (0) 12 599 4557