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The Turfan Collection

In cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the museum’s Collection of South, Southeast and Central Asian Art preserves the extensive manuscript collection amassed over the four Central-Asian Turfan (or Turpan) expeditions that took place from 1902 to 1914. The process of cataloguing the manuscripts is approaching completion.

In this special project the 21, now exceedingly fragile volumes brought back by the Turfan expeditions, collectively referred to as the Turfan Files, have been scanned and catalogued. In an index file, the contents of each of the around 8000 pages have been briefly outlined and tagged according to place name, personal name, and any other important terms they may contain. Orientalists and historians can thus gain, at a glance, insight into the material, which is not only of relevance to scholars of Central Asia but for anyone interested in the history of science and museology, as the material sheds light on historical administrative procedures, licensing and permissions procedures, budgeting questions, and hierarchical structures.


Contact: Dr. Caren Dreyer