China and five Central Asia countries are expected today to submit their first national lists of Silk Road treasures in a joint application for World Cultural Heritage status.
China has nominated 48 sites, Kazakhstan 10, Kyrgyzstan seven, Tajikistan eight, Turkmenistan 57 and Uzbekistan 33, representatives from each country said. The sites include tombs, remains of ancient cities and grottoes.
Stretching more than 8,000 km through desolate mountains and deserts, the 2,000-year-old Silk Road was used by camel caravans to transport goods from Xi'an, Shaanxi province, to Europe through Central Asia. Marco Polo, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great once followed its path.
Since the 1980s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been actively promoting the nominations to stimulate linked cultural dialogue and diversities.
Last April, the six countries adopted a Silk Road agreement for world heritage status, setting up a timetable for nominations, which will be reviewed by 2010.
Gu Yucai, an official from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said considering the length of the Silk Road and the number of the countries involved, it is proposed the endeavor would start with the joint preparation for the nomination of the Silk Road across Deserts by China and the five Central Asian countries.
The initial focus is to provide a model for the eventual identification and inscription of sites along the land route, Jing Feng, a program specialist of UNESCO, said.
The steppe and the maritime routes involve many other countries. Jing said: "The identification of the sites in the Central Asian countries will improve their institutionalized set-up and the legal process of preservation of cultural heritage."
A research professor of the Institute of Archaeology of the China Academy of Social Sciences, An Jiayao, said despite its remarkable historical background and cultural sites, Central Asia remains one of the most under-represented regions on the World Heritage list.
Today, only eight culture sites have been inscribed involving five countries. Yuri Peshikov, culture officer of the UNESCO office in Kazakhstan, said the group application will help preserve single or small cultural and historical sites as they can be combined as a single entity on the heritage list.
(Source: China Daily)