IDP's conference, 'Archaeology of the Southern Taklamakan: Hedin and Stein's Legacy and New Exploration', finished on Saturday after three days of stimulating papers by a enthusiatic and knowledgeable group of multidisciplinary international scholars.
One of the themes that emerged was the limitations of understanding Taklamakan cultures in terms only of east-west interactions. Several speakers spoke of the importance of pastoralist routes from desert to mountain and desert to steppe, while one suggested that we think in terms of circular routes of influences — perhaps conceptualising them as clouds rather than routes.
The papers and both formal and informal discussions showed both how little we understand about these cultures but also showcased the richness of the archaeological materials both from historical and modern explorations.
The papers were all recorded and will be put online on the conference website, along with details of forthcoming publications.
The image above shows the conference delegates and attendees in the British Library piazza.