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Reserch Center
 
Background
 
Perspective

The establishment of the Research Center for West Asian Civilization at the University of Tsukuba is aimed at creating an international research network that reveals the complexity and essence of West Asian civilization through interdisciplinary research and methods. This project gathers together researchers from within the University of Tsukuba and elsewhere to focus on the archaeology, history, linguistics, earth science, anthropology, regional studies and inter-disciplinary studies on the ancient West Asian world.

This research center within the Institute for Comparative Research in Human and Social Sciences (ICR) is at the center of efforts to concentrate human resources who can contribute to interdisciplinary research on West Asian civilizations. Strengthening cooperation with overseas research efforts, as well as undertaking various field projects and collaborative research programs in the West Asia region will enable the establishment of a platform that acts as a hub for international research on West Asian civilization.

The emergence of innovative technologies such as farming, animal husbandry, metallurgy, calligraphy and writing methods and the birth of civic and state social systems are areas of interest as are other processes underpinning human society, which developed in West Asia.

Our aim is to support and facilitate this type of related research, develop research networks, foster young researchers and disseminate these research results to the wider community. In addition to the field work in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq and various west Asian countries, the research centre will also undertake international cooperative efforts for the protection and rescue of cultural heritage.

 

There are a number of research organizations specializing in Islamic studies and contemporary Middle Eastern studies in Japan, however this research centre is the first to focus on integrated research of the natural environment, society and culture of West Asia prior to Islam. Several institutions specialize in the study of ancient history and archaeology in West Asia, however comprehensive research on Western Asian civilization, including its geology and paleoenvironment is lacking.

At present, several researchers at the University of Tsukuba focus on the archaeology, history, cultural heritage, linguistics and other areas of the West Asian region prior to the introduction of Islam. Other researchers in the environmental sciences focus on geology, plant ecology and regional studies and have extensive experience in surveying the West Asian region.

In the past, the Research Center for West Asian Civilization was supported by the University of Tsukuba Pre-Strategic Initiative in 2010, and in the 5 years since 2012, it was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology "Grant in Aid for Scientific Research (Kakenhi) for new research under the project ‘Ancient West Asian Civilization as the foundation of all modern civilizations’. During this time the research group undertook extensive overseas fieldwork and surveys, research meetings symposiums and other activities.

Further collaboration with overseas and off-campus research efforts and extension of the network developed as a result of previous research will enhance the development and outcomes of the Research Center for West Asian Civilization at the University of Tsukuba.

 

Since the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and their migration to West Asia, the region has been at the crossroads of human development, including the beginning of agriculture, the formation of urban societies, the invention of early writing, the development of regional states and the evolution of monotheism. However, the history of West Asia and its position as the foundation of modern societies is not widely recognized. The media and journalism place emphasis on the specificity of Islam as seen from a western viewpoint and the current conflict in the West Asian region rather than the region’s historical connection to the West.

Interdisciplinary and multilateral analysis of events in the history of civilization in the West Asian region and its role in the development of societies is fundamental to understanding human history. Through this research we can correct the tendency to accept discourses such as the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory that define conflicts between West Asia and western society.

Therefore, we propose a new image of West Asian civilization derived from the integration of research carried out by the Research Center for West Asian Civilizations at the University of Tsukuba. Through the on-going dissemination and publication of results to the wider community we believe it is possible to reverse the misconceptions associated with the West Asian world.