Introduction to the Timurid Culture



Summary: On the road of Samarkand, creation of a 

prototype of « virtual museum », based on a center of the Timurid culture, Shahrisabz, hometown of Timur (1336-1405 A.D.).



Ollagnier Céline*, Schvoerer Max*, Levi-Strauss Laurent**, Xushvaqtov Nabi*** & Aminov Babour****



* Association «Sciences & Cultural Heritage FER-PACT» ,  University of Bordeaux 3 – CNRS, (IRAMAT – CRP2A, UMR 5060) ( & ** Unesco, Museum & Cultural Objects Section, Paris. *** Amir Temur Museum of Shahrisabz ( *** Uzbek group for Timurid cultural heritage preservation , Tachkent (



From a site of the Worldwide Heritage List of Unesco.


In backdrop of the presentation of this prototype, there is what remains of the palace of Timur in Shahrisabz (Uzbekistan 39 °.1 N and 66 °.8 E) – Ak Saray – (or "White Palace"), built between 1380 and 1405 A.D. in the home town of the emperor. The surface of the pylons, as well as the basins newly brought to light (around 600 m2), is protected and decorated with thanks to remarkable glazed ceramic tiles. There is also the sudden and recent deterioration (winter 2007/2008), obviously worrying, of the mortars and glazes tiles of the basins. With a suspect, whose culpability is less and less “veiled”: actual climatic crisis and its menacing meteorological consequences. Finally, there is a happy "meeting" between Cultural Heritage, local administrations, SMEs, Research & associative communities It could lead the association "Science & Cultural Heritage" which we enliven, to coordinate with his counterpart of Central Asia and their "allies", a substantial program of conservation and promotion of a site of major interest for the country, notably on economic plan. At the same time, to assure training or specialization of risks, conservation and lost know-how professionals.


« Choice of an acronym » and an objective « to give to discover ».


The name " Shacultim " was constructed as an acronym, from the key-words : Shahrisabz ,   Culture Timurid. « To give to discover » is the modest ambition, of the « virtual museum Shacultim ». From the collections of the young museum of Shahrisabz, hometown of Timur, Shacultim introduces an aspect of this rich and subtle Culture of Central Asia. Initiated in 2007, the « prototype of virtual museum » was developed in 2008 and 2009, by the association " Sciences & Cultural Heritage PACT", through a convention with the « Museums and Cultural Objects » section of UNESCO, as part of an ongoing program, developed thanks to the support of General Council of the Department of Dordogne (France). This prototype is only a draft but it has the capacity to become rich and to evolve.


 Idea and form.


We owe to the Dr. Laurent Levi - Strauss, Head of the Museums and cultural Objects Section of Unesco (until March, 2009), a proposal to take advantage of the actual computer technology to create this prototype of " virtual Museum ", from works of our association, its partners in Uzbekistan and a laboratory of the University of Bordeaux 3 and the National Centre For Scientific Research. The idea appealed for three reasons:

- Firstly, because it aims at a public who will perhaps never have the material or physical possibility to discover by himself this Culture, such of poor people, of handicapped or old persons …

- Secondly, because our interlocutor of the Unesco, accepted that the subject was studied by searching bibliographic and experimental data and with the help of various expertises.

- Thirdly, because the corresponding job, owing to its innovative and inventive character, appears in the doctorate of one of us. One will understand since then, that the red thread takes place from its speciality, which is also that of our research team: knowledge and conservation of glazed ceramics of the architecture.


Partnership in Uzbekistan


Independent since 1991, this country concentrates the main part of our attention. The main contributions came from the Ministry of Culture (Tashkent), from public Museums (Shahrisabz, Karshi, Samarkand, Khiva and Tashkent), from some specialists in Bukhara and Tashkent and from the Uzbek group homologous of our association, with whom we work since 1999.



Partnership in France


The Embassy and the Consulate of France in Tashkent, as well as a the "antenna" of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Institute of Central Asia Studies (IFEAC) always helped us, for instance, by issuing ex gratia, visas to our Uzbek guests or let us access to their structures and material. Two partners played an essential role in the realization of the prototype. On one hand, as we have already mentioned it, a local authority, the General Council of Dordogne which leads a particularly dynamic policy of foreign affairs and exchanges in various domains and particularly cultural Tourism. On the other hand, the Research institute on Cultural Heritage Materials (IRAMAT) of the the University of Bordeaux 3 and the National Centre For Scientific Research, where the creation of the prototype took place physically.In several circumstances, companies, industrial or SME, especially in Dordogne (CESA, SOCRA, Calado) or, punctually, from Gironde and Landes, (Gardelle) detached experts in a perspective of a substantial operation of conservation in Shahrisabz. Also let us name, the very active participation of University of “Leisure” and the Regional Union of the Engineers and Scientists of Aquitaine (URISA).Finally, we do not forget that another local authority, the Regional Council of Aquitaine, as its policy of « Support of initiatives of international solidarity » who allowed the preparation of this action in 2006.


Partnership with international organisms or from other countries.


In various circumstances, Unesco played a determining role in our actions. First by inspiring the idea of this virtual museum, as it was specified, but also by encouraging and by making the work possible in situ. Let us not forget that nothing can be undertaken on a site of the Worldwide Heritage List without the consent of Unesco local Office, Unesco Direction in Paris and the Asia and Pacific Unit of the Word Heritage Center.


Homage to more ancient partners.


Let us signal finally that the collaborative network was constructed little by little, notably thanks to the unit « International Relations” of the University of Bordeaux 3 (since 1999), then in 2002 and 2003, a grant of the European Commission, through its INTAS agency. In this circumstance two teams of Italy and one of Finland had brought us their competition. From neighboring countries of Uzbekistan, we shall remember – too punctually alas, owing to a particular situation of which everyone is aware – contributions of Afghanistan and Iran partners.


Creation of the page : 21.11.2011

Modification of the page : 25.11.2011