Throughout the first millennium AD trade routes across Eurasia flourished. Now called the Silk Road (La Route de la Soie, Seidenstrasse) these routes linked Europe, China and India.
In the early twentieth century, expeditions to western China led by archaeologists from across Europe resulted in tens of thousands of excavated artefacts, manuscripts and paintings being sent to European institutions. Until recently there was no sustained cultural cooperation between these institutions. In addition, access to the collections was difficult, and there were few outreach or educational activities to bring awareness of this heritage to a wider public.
The end of the second millennium saw this change. A new era of cooperation started, coordinated by the International Dunhuang Project (IDP). The past three years have seen active scholarly collaboration between the major holders of the material with conservation, cataloguing, digitisation, research and educational activities. IDP publishes a range of material, maintains a database, carries out training and coordinates internships. Activities up until now, however, have focused on a Chinese scholarly audience.
Through IDP-CREA, IDP plans to add significant European value to its activities and specifically to promote European awareness of this heritage. IDP-CREA will focus on the stories of European explorers and Eurasian cultural objects. The expanded partnership of European cultural institutions will enable collaborative research, resource-collecting and dissemination activities to bring alive their stories and make them accessible to a European audience through publications, lectures, educational events and other activities.
IDP-CREA will also strengthen links between European partners and their Chinese and Indian counterparts. Activities in China with European partners will include a major exhibition, two educational workshops and a research and field trip.
With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union