Sir Aurel Stein, the adventurous and sometimes daring archaeologist, was a controversial scholar. While he was viewed by some as a mere “treasure hunter” from the West, he was also credited with discovering and preserving many valuable archaeological finds from Central Asia and the Silk Road. Much evidence of our world heritage would have been lost or destroyed, had it not been for his work.
History can go on with the debate, weighing the pros and cons of archaeological excavations. Today, at this exhibition, we have a chance to see for ourselves the man and the scholar, through the collection he bequeathed to the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. On display will also be some rare books on Aurel Stein, some of which I donated from my private collection to the Chinese World Cultural Heritage Foundation. We Chinese as a peace loving people will understand that what appeared to be misbehaviors by explorers such as Sir Aurel Stein, were ultimately for the good of all mankind, by preserving our history.
I am delighted to be part of this privileged event. I hope there will be many more similar exhibitions. They will improve the appreciation for the important work of these explorers and archaeologists, which in turn, I hope, will enhance the understanding of the world’s history and heritage, and eventually bring peace and harmony to the civilizations of the world.
Chair of Champion Technology Group, A Better Tomorrow,
and Chinese World Cultural Heritage Foundation
Marc Aurel Stein was one of the greatest figures of international archaeology. He was born and educated in Budapest, and his mother tongue was Hungarian. His interest led him on to distant lands, and he found support for his scholarly work in Great Britain, of which he was to become a citizen. He nevertheless maintained close links with his native country, and nothing shows his attachment better than the bequest of his books, some of his documents, and major part of his photo collection, to the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
We as Hungarians are proud of Aurel Stein. He was a serious, devoted scholar, like another fellow countryman, Alexander Csoma de Kőrös. Obstinate and obsessed, he went after what others had given up as lost. He often found it, and as a responsible man of ideas, he did everything in his power to save it for posterity. Stein was thinking in the framework of a world heritage, believing that the cultural legacy of former ages is the common treasure of all mankind, and that scholars must act to preserve this value.
It is now with great pleasure that we present you, with the assistance of the Champion Technology Group, the valuable collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. We find this opportunity very important, as the Chinese public can at last have a chance to know the real Aurel Stein – the purposeful, suffering, responsible man. We wish you a lasting experience and a pleasant rediscovery!
Dr István Hiller
Minister of Education and Culture, Hungary