With its long and rich history, once being the capital of the Han Dynasty and the starting point of the legendary Silk Road, the city of Xi´an was a natural choice for the international conference 'Archaeology and Conservation along the Silk Road'. The idea of organising the conference that gathered professionals in archaeology and conservation along the Silk Road, was inspired by the Silk Road itself, as the network of trade routes and cultural interaction through the Asian continent.
The conference was organized and generously funded by the Northwest University, China and the Eurasia-Pacific UniNet, Austria, co-organised by the University of Applied Arts Vienna and was hosted by the School of Cultural
Heritage of the Northwest University in Xi´an. The conference was held over three days from 23-25 May 2014; the extensive academic sessions were on the programme during the first two days, the third day was dedicated to the excursion to the vicinity of Xi’an.
The official opening remarks by Brigitte Winklehner, Fang Guanghua and Gabriela Krist evoked the atmosphere of bridging the ancient network of past generations and modern times, and opened the technical programme.
Altogether 30 presentations and two poster presentations by invited speakers from 11 Asian and European countries were divided into eight sessions titled 'Silk Road', 'Textiles – Technology, Conservation and Archaeology', 'Food and Cultural Interaction', 'Artistic Interaction', 'Conservation and Archaeology', 'Architecture', 'Archaeological Science' and 'New Perspectives into Chinese Material Culture'. The diversity of presenter backgrounds meant that a lot of interesting perspectives were presented within high quality papers on the whole. The vivid discussions after the sessions continued during the coffee breaks and the lunch time in the campus of NWU, so there was sufficient amount of time to interact with one another.
The third day´s excursion to the Terracotta Warrior Museum, Qin Dynasty and the Yang Mausoleum, Han Dynasty was undoubtedly the highlight of the conference. Despite all of us partly knew these places from the public media, to get there in person was a breath-taking and unforgettable experience.
Good presentations and talks, the opportunity to network with new colleagues as well as the informal way the conference adopted, made it excellent an excellent event. This would have not been possible without the competent, helpful and friendly staff, to who go the thanks of all attendees. The overall satisfaction has been reflected also in the wish of all the participants to meet again at a follow-up conference in two year time. Aside from further exchange of experiences in this specific field, this event should also serve as a meeting point and a dialogue platform for even more participants from Central Asia.
In her final remarks Sabine Ladstätter pointed out that 'the cooperation between archaeologists and conservators is more an arranged marriage than a true love'. The Xian´s conference has confirmed that the latter can also be possible.