UTSA and the National Department Conclude First Mission to Restore Hudaynazar Mausoleum

April 10, 2023

On April 7, 2023, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the National Department of Protection, Research, and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Sites of Turkmenistan (hereinafter the National Department) concluded the first mission aimed at preserving the 12th century Hudaynazar Mausoleum near the city of Bayramaly. The delegation that travelled to work on the artifact consisted of Dr. Angela Lombardi, UTSA Associate Professor, Mr. William Dupont, UTSA Professor and Director of the UTSA Center of Cultural Sustainability (CCS), and Ms. Sara Rodriguez-Jimeno, UTSA Research Fellow.

The week-long mission included meetings with local partners to accurately measure, sketch, and photo document the mausoleum, and to acquire information on the Ancient Merv Historical Park. The UTSA experts, together with the specialists from the National Department, believe these efforts can lead to the full-scale conservation of the mausoleum (including the restoration of its principal façade). The two parties also held preliminary discussions on developing a tourist plan for the mausoleum. With decades of experience in heritage site management and heritage tourism (including six World Heritage sites across four continents), UTSA is looking forward to crafting a common vision between park authorities and representatives of tourism companies that showcases the mausoleum as a cultural destination.

In addition to their work on the mausoleum, the UTSA delegation used their time in-country to conduct presentations and share expertise with their Turkmen counterparts (experts and students). The presentation entitled “From Local to Global – Innovations in Heritage Conservation and Management” took place at State Museum of the State Cultural Center of Turkmenistan and the Institute of Culture of Turkmenistan. The presentations garnered extensive media coverage throughout the week from multiple outlets.

UTSA and the National Department plan to conduct additional missions to work on the mausoleum in the near future. Future missions will include construction site preparation, conservation work (gathering/storage of historic bricks), documentation and education (the creation of curriculum material for training in the use of traditional construction and conservation methods), and marketing to tourism companies. By integrating the newly restored site within existing tour routes, the Hudaynazar Mausoleum will increase public awareness on various topics related to Turkmenistan’s cultural heritage and resources, such as the key role of Seljuk architecture within ancient civilizations.

The mission was made possible by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) – an annual grant competition established and administered by the U.S. Department of State. Since its inception in 2001, AFCP has supported over 1,000 cultural preservation projects in more than 130 countries worldwide. To date, the AFCP has funded 30 projects in Turkmenistan worth close to two million U.S. dollars, which makes Turkmenistan the leading recipient in AFCP awards worldwide.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan at USEmbassy-Ashgabat-PAS@state.gov.