The British Academy awards Stein-Arnold Exploration Fund to two independent researchers
5 Apr 2023
The British Academy has announced two Stein-Arnold Exploration Fund awards that will support research into ancient civilisations in Mongolia and north India.
The Fund was established according to the Will of Sir Aurel Stein FBA, to commemorate his friendship with Sir Thomas Arnold FBA, and it aims to encourage exploratory research on the antiquities, historical geography or arts of ancient civilisations of India, China and Iran, including Central Asia.
Professor Patrick Sutherland's project will investigate figures and symbols carved into wooden dough moulds in Spiti Valley, north India. The £4,000 award will enable Professor Sutherland to digitise the carvings in detail and conduct interviews with the owners and users of the objects, locating them within the wider context of chowa ritual performances, tantric cosmology or Tibetan astrology.
Dr Zsolt Szilágyi has been awarded £2,500 to conduct geophysical prospection of a 10-12th century settlement called Khar Bukh Balgas in Bulgan county, Mongolia. Dr Szilágyi’s research aims to understand what types of buildings are inside the settlement and how the land was used.
The Stein-Arnold Exploration Fund awardees are:
Professor Patrick Sutherland
‘Zan Par: a visual investigation of the figures and symbols carved into the wooden moulds used by Spiti’s village-based tantric practitioners’
The project will investigate the carved wooden Zan Par moulds used by village-based tantric ritual practitioners, known locally as chowa, in the culturally-Tibetan Spiti Valley, north India. These moulds are a specialised form of printing block, employed to make impressions into hand-shaped ceremonial dough offerings. The project will digitise the carvings in great detail, photographing each wooden mould in full and then individual carvings of figures, clusters of figures and symbols in high resolution and in extreme close up. Researchers will also conduct extensive interviews with the owners and users of the objects in order to identify individual figures, groups of figures and symbols and locate them within the wider context of chowa ritual performances, tantric cosmology or Tibetan astrology.
Dr Zsolt Szilágyi
‘Same site - different viewpoints. Understanding the archaeological landscape of the 10- 12th century Khitan period settlement of Khar Bukh Balgas in Bulgan county, Mongolia’
The project’s aim is to conduct geophysical prospection at the Khitan period (10-12th century) site of Khar Bukh Balgas at Bulgan county, Mongolia. It will operate under the Khi-Land, Khitan Landscapes in Mongolia 2017-2023 project. With the already gathered and processed data on hand, researchers will return to the site to conduct geophysical prospection, using non-destructive methods to understand the morphology of under-earth sites and answer the following questions: What type of buildings are inside the fortress? What can we see outside of the enclosure? How was the land used?