Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, the head of the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Research Center, meets the new head of the Oriental Studies Institute, Professor Mark Smith

Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, the head of the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Research Center, meets the new head of the Oriental Studies Institute, Professor Mark Smith

The rector of the Baku branch of MSU, the head of the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Research Center from the Azerbaijani side, Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, while visiting the UK met the new head of the Oriental Studies Institute, Professor Mark Smith on November 5th. The meeting took place in the Griffith Institute of Oxford University.

The institute is one of leading research centers of the world in the sphere of Egyptology. There are archeological materials which were found in the case of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, as well as reports of a scientific expedition of German scientists, which took place in Egypt in the 19th century.

Professor Mark Smith expressed satisfaction about meeting Professor Nargiz Pashayeva. He spoke about the importance of the Nizami Ganjavi Center, which is an official part of Oxford University. He thanked Nargiz Pashayeva for her activity in the sphere, which was directed at the successful work of the institute. Professor Smith also pointed out that studying the cultural and scientific heritage of Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus region was scientifically important for the Oriental Studies Institute. He said that in a short period of time the Center’s activity is already considered interesting by Oxford University and the academic circles of the West. Mark Smith was sure that the faculty of Oxford University would achieve new significant scientific results together with Nizami Ganjavi Center.

Nargiz Pashayeva also expressed satisfaction about the meeting with Mark Smith, emphasizing opening a new page and a new stage in studying the scientific heritage of Azerbaijan at a high international academic level.

“As the head of the Center, I feel proud to implement such an important and responsible mission,” Professor Pashayeva said. She also stressed that the Nizami Ganjavi Center is a serious international project which was implemented by Azerbaijan in the years of independence in the sphere of science and education. Nargiz Pashayeva expressed her deep gratitude to the faculty, staff and leadership of the university for their high interest and trust in her and the whole of Azerbaijani science. She stated that a broad study of the history and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan at the international level by world-known and outstanding universities and scientists was very important.

She also pointed out that in Soviet times Azerbaijani science was deprived of such opportunities, and it led to gaps in the sphere. Due to the Nizami Ganjavi Center, real opportunities and hopes for their correction appeared. Moreover, it is planned to cooperate more closely with such well-known research centers as Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, and the University of Istanbul.

Then, Nargiz Pashaeva held a meeting in the guest hall of the Ashmolean Museum (the museum of art and archeology) of Oxford University with her colleagues, members of the working group of the Nizami Ganjavi Center, leading professors of the Oriental Studies Institute of Oxford University, Robert Hoyland, Edmund Herzig, and Dr. Paul Wadswors.

As the first and the oldest museum not only in the UK, but also in Europe, the Ashmolean Museum is the most well-known and major museum which operates in Oxford University. It contains valuable items which are connected with the history and culture of humanity. Ahead of the meeting, the head of the Nizami Ganjavi Center from the UK side, Robert Hoyland, showed the Middle East bloc of the museum to Nargiz Pashayeva. He told her about rare historic items and ancient archeological finds. The Ashmolean Museum was established in 1678. It has and demonstrates items from various historic periods, starting from the 11th century B.C. These include pearls of the Renaissance, such as works by Raphael, items from Egypt, collections from Ancient Greece, Anglo-Saxon treasures, ancient oriental manuscripts and miniatures, as well as other examples of the world culture.

Within the framework of the meeting, the working group of the Center held a discussion about the initial results of the excavation in Bard. The archeological expedition consisted of scientists and experts of Oxford University. 

A team leader, a PhD of the Institute of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, a researcher of the college, Paul Brasenos Vordsvorth, noted that archaeological research promises new discoveries in the study of the historical and cultural heritage of not only Azerbaijan, but also the entire Caucasus region. It was noted that in the near future the composition of the Barda archaeological expedition plans to introduce a scientific report and a public presentation of the research results at Oxford University and then at the Baku branch of Moscow State University. He expressed hope that, according to the primary conclusion of the expedition, the material-cultural samples found will make an important contribution to existing scientific knowledge in the West about this for the study of the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan.

It should be noted that, along with the archaeological expedition headed by Dr. Vordsvorth on the joint initiative of the leaders of the Nizami Ganjavi Center,  Professor Robert Hoyland and Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, for the first time in Azerbaijan the British organization ‘Heritage Without Borders’ has been involved in the Barda expedition to protect the cultural heritage. This organization, bringing together leading experts on the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity in various parts of the world, organizes the defense and protection of the material and cultural standards found during archaeological excavations, and ensures their preservation for future generations. With this purpose, in the framework of the Barda archaeological expedition a director and a member of the Board of Trustees of the organization ‘Heritage Without Borders’, an expert on archeology, Dr. Dominic Darkanzhelo, arrived on a working visit to Baku and Barda on September 15-20 at the invitation of Nargiz Pashayeva. During the visit she got acquainted with the excavations conducted by the archaeological expedition of the Center in Barda, and gave practical advice to the members of the expedition on how to preserve and protect the finds. Returning to Baku, Dr. Darkanzhelo met with Nargiz Pashayeva, informed her about the preservation and storage methods of the samples found during the excavation, as well as on the work of the Barda archaeological expedition. Then they visited the Museum of History of Azerbaijan, where they held discussions with the leadership and staff of the museum.

Dr. Vordsvorth also noted that the British Council, in turn, takes a keen interest in the work of the Barda archaeological expedition and is considering the possibility of cooperation with this organization in the future. He stressed that until now the history of Barda, as well as the issues relating to the period when Barda was a cultural, economic, administrative and military center of Caucasian Albania, are sometimes investigated without the presence of a scientific basis or sufficient evidence in some areas. There is a need for serious scientific and academic research based on ancient sources and manuscripts with the support of the Center of Nizami Ganjavi of the University of Oxford . The fact that Professor Vordsvorth will make an official scientific report of the initial findings of the archaeological expedition to Barda at the annual conference in Atlanta (Georgia, USA), representing the Nizami Ganjavi Center of the University of Oxford there, is very important. He was invited to the conference that is to be held on November 18-21th by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USA (ASOR, American Schools of Oriental Studies).

It should be noted that ASOR is an authoritative research institute which was established jointly by competent universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Columbia. ASOR  was established in 1900 to conduct research in the field of Oriental Studies.

After that, all the members of the working group discussed other projects of the Center. Professor Herzig informed of the completion of an English translation of the book ‘The Great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi", authored by the Academician Yevgeny Bertels. The book is currently going to press, it will be published at the beginning of next year.

For her part, Professor Nargiz Pashayeva said that this book is being translated into English for the first time and reissued also for the first time since 1941. She noted that she feels a sense of pride that this is the first translation of the Nizami Ganjavi Center of the University of Oxford. The working group discussed the books of Azerbaijani scientists that will be translated into English by the Center in the future. Summing up the meeting, the head of the Nizami Ganjavi Center of the University of Oxford, Professor Robert Hoyland, praised the activities of the Center over the past period, "The Nizami Ganjavi Center of Oxford University is the only authoritative scientific center for the study of Azerbaijan in the UK so far officially recognized, with the highest status." He thanked his counterpart Nargiz Pashayeva for her work, for activities aimed at the successful continuation of this major scientific organization. Professor Robert Hoyland also spoke about the meeting between Professor Nargiz Pashayeva and the leadership of the University of Oxford planned for 2016, and expressed his full confidence that the Nizami Ganjavi Center will make a major breakthrough in the enrichment and deepening of scientific and professional knowledge in the West about Azerbaijan. He stressed that the establishment and operation of the Center in the world-famous University of Oxford is a historic success and a great opportunity for the future generations of Azerbaijan. Professor Hoyland stressed the importance of the initiative of the first Azerbaijani scientist Professor Nargiz Pashayeva for the study of the cultural and historical heritage of Azerbaijan on the basis of scientific principles in such a serious research center as the University of Oxford, which is why he supports her other initiatives and plans.

The working group also discussed other issues related to the activities of the Center.

During her visit to the UK, Professor Pashayeva met a co-chair of  the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society from the British side, Lord Herman. Note that Professor Nargiz Pashaeva herself has been a co-chair of the organization from the Azerbaijani side since 2007. The current activities of the organization, as well as upcoming projects, were extensively discussed during the meeting. The co-chairs discussed the results of the essay competition on the works of the great English poet William Shakespeare, which was conducted among the students of the branch of the MV Lomonosov  Moscow State University in Baku. In addition, the issue of cooperation between the Bulbul Baku Music School and the oldest specialist music school in England, the Purcell School, was discussed.

The Purcell School was established in 1963 and won the Mozart Prize established by UNESCO in 2003. This prize was awarded to the school trustee Prince Charles. The process of  establishment of cooperation between the Purcell School and the Bulbul Baku Musical School was started on the initiative of Professor Pashayeva. The subject of discussion was the question of the possibility of communication between students from both schools. Professor Pashayeva, in turn, reported that the director of the Bulbul Musical School, along with two Azerbaijani students, will soon go to London to visit the Purcell School. She expressed hope that this will create a good basis for future cooperation between the specialist music schools

As for the essay contest on the works of William Shakespeare, this initiative was launched during a meeting with Lord Herman, who arrived in Baku in February this year at the invitation of Professor Pashayeva. Then the co-chairs met at the Faculty of Philology of the Moscow State University branch in Baku with bachelors and masters specializing in English language and literature. During the meeting, Lord Herman and Professor Pashayeva agreed on the possibility of holding a competition of essays on the works of the English poet William Shakespeare among the university students. It was planned that the winner of the essay contest sponsored by the company will visit the home town of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon. Professor Pashayeva, speaking of the work in connection with the contest, noted that the works of eight students have been assessed by a competition commission and the winner would be announced imminently. The co-chairs  decided to implement a trip for the winner of the contest to the home town of William Shakespeare at the beginning of 2016. The co-chairs also shared the future plans and projects of the English-Azerbaijani Society.