The 2nd Astronomical Silk Road: International Workshop on Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in China and Central Asia. July 6-9, 2017, Urumqi, China

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The 2nd Astronomical Silk Road: International Workshop on Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in China and Central Asia was held in Urumqi-China from July 6-9, 2017. The workshop was organized by Xinjiang Observatory, under the auspices of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Prime focus of the workshop was on the astronomical discoveries along the Silk Road, exploration of the ancient astronomical documents on the Silk Road, the spread of astronomical knowledge between Eastern and Western, astronomy and the Western Civilization and the history of astronomy of minority nationalities in Xinjiang. Experts from China, Asia, Iran, Hong Kong and Pakistan participated in the workshop and exchanged their research on Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy. President ECO Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro was invited as a keynote speaker. He made a presentation entitled, “The Role of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) in promoting Astronomy along the Silk Route Linking China and the ECO Countries with Focus on Central Asia”.

After giving a brief introduction of  ECOSF, its aims and objectives. Prof. Soomro mentioned that Astronomy has played an important role in the formation of civilizations; it is even possible to assess the level of economic, technological and scientific development of a nation based on its state of astronomical advances. The use of astronomy became fundamental for taking important decisions in the agriculture, navigation and religious rituals.  He further highlighted that Astronomy is one of the first Science used for education as sky-gazing by children and has always been universal.

While focusing on the importance of The Silk route he said that The Silk route had long been an important exchange of scientific and technological knowledge between major connecting regions of the world. While Europe was still in the Dark Ages, astronomy flourished along the silk route, in the Persia, Central Asia and in the rest of the Islamic world. Astronomers in China, Central Asian states and Persian empires performed extensive observations and compiled a number of stellar catalogues. Astronomers and scholars along the Silk route made major contribution to the development of Astronomy.

“The achievements of astronomers in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), Istanbul and Iran are very well known. They improved and invented the quadrants and sextants for astronomical observations. Astronomers who practiced in these observatories could predict eclipses and calculate the hour of the rising sun and the duration of year, which was only a one minute longer than modern electronic determinations”, he added

On behalf of ECOSF, Prof. Soomro at the end proposed collaboration between China and ECO Region especially networking with the ECO member states observatories especially the Maragheh in Iran, Ulugh Beg in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He  also assured Xinjiang observatory full support and cooperation to boost ties and cooperation in the field of Astronomy between China and ECO Countries particularly Central Asian States.

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