On June 15, 2011 the International Caravanserai of Culture hosted a ceremony to confer the Ikuo Hirayama Award in the field of archaeology; the ceremony was attended by H.E. Yoshihisa Kuroda, Ambassador of Japan to Uzbekistan, and Dr. Tursunali Kuziev, the President of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of international and local academia, artistic community, press, television and radio.
Ikuo Hirayama, an internationally recognized artist, prominent researcher, scholar and public figure in Japan, humanist and patron of arts, founder of the Silk Road Foundation, the Museum of Oriental Cultures (Tokyo) and the Foundation for saving cultural and historical monuments in Afghanistan, repeatedly spoke of the need to revive the ancient traditions of the Great Silk Road, of which he was a researcher and promoter. The scholar believed that Uzbekistan was the historical and spiritual centre of the Silk Road that connected the East and West. Through his diverse activities, the Japanese scientist and enlightener helped intensify contacts between Japanese and Uzbek cultural activists, organize joint research field trips of art historians, and run exhibitions and forums.
The Ikuo Hirayama Award is a prestigious prize in the global academic community. Since 2010 it has been awarded annually to five young professionals from different countries, who actively participate in archaeological research, restoration and preservation of cultural heritage in the Great Silk Road countries, and make a particularly valuable contribution to the development of archaeology, in both academic and practical domains of the science.
The winners of the 2011 Ikuo Hirayama Award in archaeology, receiving memorable medals plaques, diplomas and prizes were:
1. Dr. Mitsuru Haga (Japan), Tohoku University Professor, for his research work, Silk Road cultural heritage conservation, and the article «Image of the Kiss: Between the Profane and the Sacred — From the Ancient Mediterranean World to the Han Dynasty, a Newly Found ‘Dionysus and Ariadne’ Terracotta from Central Eurasia as a Nub».
2. Shunpei Iwai (Japan), Ryukoku Museum Curator and Ryukoku University Professor, for his contribution to the study of history and archaeological monuments of Uzbekistan.
3. Roman Vladimirovich Tikhonov (Russia), graduate student and assistant at the Universal history department of the Bunin State University in Yeletsk, for his contribution to the study of history and archaeological monuments of Uzbekistan, and for his article «On the subject of Greek influence on Hellenistic pottery ornamentation (as exemplified by stamp ornament)».
4. Alexei Gorin (Uzbekistan), junior research fellow at the Art History Department of the Art History Research Institute under the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, for his contribution to the study of historical monuments in Uzbekistan, and for his article «Parthian coins found on the Kampyrtepa ancient settlement site».
Below are the thought of those who attended the Ikuo Hirayama Award ceremony:
Farrukh Usmanov, Director of the Ikuo Hirayama International Caravanserai of Culture:
The Caravanserai of Culture was established in 2002 at the initiative of Ikuo Hirayama and the AAU President Tursunali Kuziev as an international enlightenment centre under the auspices of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. Today it is officially called the 14th Unit of the International Tokharistan archaeological expedition where Uzbeks, Japanese and Russians work hand in hand, in particular, experts from the Bunin State University in Yeletsk. That is why representatives of these countries are among the awardees.
Uzbekistan takes archaeological research very seriously, and we are concerned by the fact that in recent years the number of young specialists in archaeology has been declining. There is a need to raise the prestige of the science among young people, and the Award helps us to do it.
If last year the Award went to archaeologists only, this year it was also received by the Great Silk Road experts and researchers. When selecting candidates, we considered their age that should not exceed 35 years, the value of their work in terms of research into the Great Silk Road, as well candidates’ contribution to the development of science and culture.
Edward V. Rtveladze, Senator, Academician, Professor, Doctor of historical sciences:
Ikuo Hirayama is an amazing individual. He put his energy, knowledge, skills, talent and finances to the cause of enlightenment. His resources funded a 10-volume publication of the «Architecture and Art on the Great Silk Road» Yearbook, which, in my opinion, is still one of the best publications offering materials dedicated to archaeological research and topical articles authored by scientists from many countries. Owing to the Hirayama scholarship, one of my students had a unique opportunity to do research at the coins and medals department of the British Museum.
The Ikuo Hirayama Award has great academic significance and a certain import in the world of science. I am delighted to see that many years later another student of mine, Alexei Gorin, whom I consider the only one young expert in numismatics, received the Award. It has provided a strong incentive for further growth. Alexei Gorin, winner of the Ikuo Hirayama Award:
To be the laureate of the Award is a great honour for me. When your effort is appreciated, you feel responsibility for the work you do and feel great joy and satisfaction. It would be wonderful if this emotion could be experienced by other young archaeologists in the years to follow.