May 17, 1996

THE ROLEX AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE. British archaeologist Georgina Herrmann has received a Rolex Award for Enterprise for her exploration of the Great Silk Road site of Merv, an oasis in the Kara Kum desert in Turkmenistan.

Dr Herrmann, a reader at University College London, first visited Merv in 1990 and returned a year later to begin exploring the ruins of what was one of the most important cultural and commercial centres between the West and the East. She now heads an international team dedicated to mapping the three walled cities which for 2,500 years served as a staging post in the middle of the Kara Kum desert.The aim is to secure Unesco world heritage status for Merv to ensure its continued preservation.

With the help of data obtained through aerial surveys, the researchers have identified ancient irrigation and street systems. Evidence that cotton was being grown in Merv in the fifth century ad, much earlier than previously thought, has also been uncovered.

Dr Herrmann said: "This very generous award is enormously important. Trying to secure funding for archaeological projects is extremely difficult today as each field trip costs approximately Pounds 30,000." The award would contribute to the exploration of an area of bazaars, housing and industry in the early city as well as to the training of Turkmen archaeologists.

1996 Lilly Prize Saghir Atkhtar, lecturer in pharmaceutical and biological sciences at Aston University, has been awarded the Lilly prize for pharmaceutical excellence, in recognition of his research in the development of novel oligonucleotide-based therapies for the treatment of brain cancer and AIDS.

Noticeboard is compiled by Lynne Wiliams. For further information see also NetGazette on http//

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