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On 11 January, the British Museum hosted a presentation for the first English-language review of Kazakhstan's history: An Illustrated History of Kazakhstan. Asia's heartland in context. Presented as essays by foreign and Kazakh historians and experts – and compiled in chronological order reflecting the stages of Kazakhstan's historical development – the book is lavishly illustrated with ancient and modern imagery, maps, and copies of historical documents.
The launch of the book concluded a four-month exhibition at the British Museum looking at the art and culture of the nomadic people of Eurasia. The exhibition was organised by the State Hermitage of Russia and the National Museum of Kazakhstan.
The presentation was attended by Dr Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum; government representatives and MPs; representatives from the British business community; experts; journalists; and foreign ambassadors. In speaking to the guests, Ambassador Idrissov noted that the event took place in line with President Nazarbayev's modernization of national identity programme, which aims to promote the historic and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan around the world.
“Kazakhstan is a state with deep historical roots and a unique culture. For its centuries-old history, our country has passed the thorny path of development and is now positioned as a modern state with a stable and dynamically developing economy. Preservation and promotion of historical and cultural values are important components of successful modernisation", Mr Idrissov said.
The ambassador also presented guests with a summary of President Nazarbayev's State of the Nation Address. He noted that the Address identified Kazakhstan's key development priorities in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
Dr Jonathan Williams, Deputy Director, spoke on behalf of the British Museum:
“I am very glad that the exhibition of art and culture of the ancient Scythians in the British Museum has found its continuation in the publication of this unique book about the history of Kazakhstan. It is great that the British Museum became part of such large-scale projects and contributed to the promotion of the history and culture of Kazakhstan."
The book's author, Jeremy Tredinnick, said: "This is a very large project aimed at presenting the English-speaking community not only with the history and culture of one of the most ancient states of the world, but also with the modern development of Kazakhstan, its people, culture and traditions. The book will be very interesting for the international audience' Mr Tredinnick is a British writer and publicist who has specialized in the Asia-Pacific region for the last twenty years.
It is noteworthy that An Illustrated History of Kazakhstan. Asia's heartland in context was created with the involvement of leading experts and historians from a number of countries, in order to cater to a range of foreign readers. Its international audience can find a number of interesting facts in this edition - from the rudiments of today's multi-vector diplomacy in the foreign policy of Abylai-khan to the revival of the ancient Silk Road in modern routes.
Guests were also presented with the works of Dauren Kasteyev, a young Kazakh artist, member of the Union of Kazakhstan artists, and grandson of the legendary artist Abilkhan Kasteyev. Kasteyev's exhibition included paintings on the history of Kazakhstan, such as the triptych 'Aktaban Shubyryndy' (Great disaster), 'Morning before the Battle', 'Daraboz', 'Wolf-Tengri', 'Aisha Bibi Legend', and others.