Non-Textual Materials as a Source and Subject of Research: The German “Turfan Expeditions” and the Berlin Collections

Previously digitalised photographs and files concerning the four Turfan Expeditions (1902–14) will be added to the CrossAsia platform at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library) to make them available internationally for other projects.

Members of the four Turfan Expeditions (1902–14) recorded and documented the archaeological sites on the northern Silk Road (now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). The “Turfan Archive” of the expeditions  includes in-situ drawings and paintings, extensive photographic documentation and documents. The historical photographs showing archaeological sites, people, daily life and objects will be annotated with names of the places and people recorded and object descriptions when possible. An index of the documents in the “Turfan Archive”  will also be made available.

This accumulated data will be made accessible online via the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin’s international CrossAsia platform and SMB-digital. The project objective is to make the digital objects available to science, research and the public, especially to subsequently enable further research projects with the relevant objects in Germany and abroad.


Cooperation partner: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin 
Project manager: Matthias Kaun (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Head of the East Asian Department)
Research Associates: Dr. Aysima Mirsultan (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), Dr. Caren Dreyer
Digital content coordinator: Dr. Maurice Mengel, Head of the Media Department, Ethnologisches Museum und Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Ethnological Museum and Museum of Asian Art)
Coordination at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst: Dr. Lilla Russell-Smith, Curator of Central Asian Art
Project Sponsor/ Funded by: The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media 
Duration: April 2021 – January 2022 
Project website: digital.crossasia.org (online in 2022)