The Model of Selfless Service to Science. On the 70th Anniversary of Academician Edward V. Rtveladze

Issue #2 • 804

What an amazing labour, that is hundredfold harder than others,

Yet the one who experienced it, shall reap the reward from Heavens .

Alisher Navoi

Anniversary does not only mean stock-taking; it is also a point to look to the future, the beginning of the road that leads to new achievements and successes.

Over nearly 50 years of his productive academic career in science and research, Edward V. Rtveladze published more than 800 papers, edited many collective works, and performed as academic adviser to young scientists. His works are known in many countries around the world and have been published in dozens of languages.

Works authored by Academician Rtveladze have become desktop manuals for both the beginner students of history, and seasoned researchers performing in-depth studies of the country’s history, its cultural heritage and monuments, urban architecture and development, achievements in archaeology and numismatics, etc. The scholar’s research laid the scientific foundations in many knowledge areas, such as periodization of monetary relations in Central Asia, the definition of the role played by Central Asian civilization Between The Two Rivers, the history of statehood in Uzbekistan, and trade relations between Central Asia and Eastern countries.

As a student, Rtveladze participated in the first archaeological expeditions (field work) in the Old Merv, which were part of the STACE (South-Turkmenistan Archaeological Combined Expedition), and realized the importance of exercising a comprehensive approach to the object under study. He has been a worthy successor and follower of his famous teachers and patriarchs of science Michael E. Masson and Galina A. Pugachenkova. His academic career harmoniously encompasses research not only in archaeology and history, but also in urban development, architecture, and art culture evolution. Pugachenkova once remarked that in this respect she had been able to pass the baton on to him.

Based on a thorough blanket record of ancient monuments in SurkhandaryaProvince that identified about 100 archaeological sites (previously, no more than 30 sites were recorded), Rtveladze produced a preliminary classification of the monuments, which he divided into four groups. He carried out this work as a member of the UzIskE (Uzbekistan’s combined art history expedition) tasked “to perform archaeological study of monuments in the course of en-route reconnaissance and stationary excavations” (1, p. 7) along with studying ancient and medieval urban monuments, architecture and fine arts.

Rtveladze carried out a major research in ancient fortification. As his first job, he produced a stratigraphic cross-section of the Dalverzintepa citadel wall (1968) and identified its three periods. Later on, in 1987, during exploration in the Derbent Gorge, he specified the location of the north-western boundary of the KushanState, which ran between Bactria and Sogdiana, confirmed by the discovery of remains of a powerful wall marking the boundary.

During the excavation on Kampyrtepa ancient settlement, discovered by Rtveladze in 1972, the main objective was to examine its fortification and the citadel infrastructure. Kampyrtepa excavations began in 1979, and since that time the site has been the primary object of research for the scholar.

In 1999 Rtveladze organized the Tokharistan archaeological expedition, following “the field work tradition started by the earlier work of fundamental expeditions such as STACE led by M. E. Masson, and KAEE (Khorezm archaeological and ethnographic expedition) guided by S. P. Tolstov” (2, p. 7). Through all types of stratigraphic research (pits, cuts, and excavations) employed at the site, they discovered Hellenistic cultural layers and identified four periods in the history of Tokharistan. The key point was that “stratigraphy and periodization [of the site] are directly related to the fortification and architectural structures” (3, p. 7).

An objective such as complete opening of the settlement was formulated for the first time in archaeological practice. Ancient burial structures (naus, kata) discovered at Dalverzintepa, Kampyrtepa, and Yalangtushtepa and studied by scholars enabled Rtveladze to restore and compare funeral rites of different parts of Central Asia during Antiquity, and to identify their main types. The study of architecture and burial rite specificities continued in the monuments of Northern Tokharistan dating to the V-VIII centuries. This kind of study had never been conducted before. Rtveladze addressed the issues of generic relationship and distinctive features of the Tokharistan rite, filling the gaps in the studies of burial structures and rituals evolution during the period of transition.

Rtveladze’s unordinary scientific thought finds new perspectives and viewpoints on the already established definitions with the help of archaeological data: for instance, in the interpretation of Halchayan sculpture (based on new numismatic data); in the search for historical evidence in the legends about the founding of Central Asian cities; in the architectural analysis of the Kara-Kamar caves, which scientists believe to be the Mithraeum – the sanctuary of Mithra; in expanding the notion of the time-span and purpose of centric mausoleums, etc.

Edward Rtveladze is a great mentor and teacher. His obsession with science becomes infectious for everyone who happens to be in contact with him – primarily young scholars pursuing their studies in different fields of science. Tactfully, without imposing his own point of view, the scholar offers his keen observation and guidance, which prove very useful in solving a particular problem. An academic of the word-wide fame, he is available to everyone, regardless of title and rank, age or position. His highly professional attitude and unique knowledge have strong magnetism. Being busy as he is, the famous scholar always finds the time for one who turns to him with his problem.

How many miles Edward Vasilyevich has covered under the hot Central Asian sky, and how many he still has to walk in search for scientific truth? It is hard to imagine that unparalleled feeling of satisfaction that engulfs a scientist, when, at the end of the field work and with the gathered material – sometimes unique – he analyzes and organizes the data. All this information is presented in numerous papers authored by the scholar – a man with boundless scope of thoughts and ideas.

May good fortune always be with you, our dear teacher, with new discoveries waiting!


1. Пугаченкова Г. А. В поисках позабытой цивилизации // Из истории античной цивилизации. Ташкент, 1973.

2. Ртвеладзе Э. В. Предисловие // Материалы Тохаристанской экспедиции. Вып. VII. Тохаристанская археологическая экспедиция. 1999 – 2009 гг. Страницы истории / Ответственный редактор Э. В. Ртвеладзе. Ташкент, 2009.

3. Ртвеладзе Э. В. К итогам стратиграфических исследований на городище Кампыртепа в 2002 – 2005 гг. // Материалы Тохаристанской экспедиции. Ташкент, 2006.

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