BISHKEK (TCA) — On December 11, the issuance in the Kyrgyz language of “Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane,” a book by S. Frederick Starr, the founding chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, was held in Bishkek.
The presentation was organized by the Regional Institute of Central Asia, which supported the book’s translation into Kyrgyz.
First published in 2013, “Lost Enlightenment” recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields.
Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology. They gave algebra its name, calculated the earth’s diameter with unprecedented precision, wrote the books that later defined European medicine, and penned some of the world’s greatest poetry. One scholar, working in Afghanistan, even predicted the existence of North and South America — five centuries before Columbus. Rarely in history has a more impressive group of polymaths appeared at one place and time, according to the book’s author.
Speaking at the book’s presentation, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov said, “The author divides the history of Central Asia into three stages: the first is the centuries of progress, the second — the centuries of regression, and the third is the perspective of our time. The time of production integration has come, and the future of each country depends on regional development. The beams of enlightenment never disappear without a trace, and a time of the light will return to where it once was born. It will certainly return. Frederick Starr does believe in this, and we do believe in it, too.”
S. Frederick Starr is the founding chairman of the Central Asia -Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, a joint transatlantic research and policy center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Institute (AFPC) in Washington (where Starr is Research Professor) and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. A past president of Oberlin College and the Aspen Institute, he began his career in classical archaeology, excavating at Gordium in modern Turkey and mapping the Persian Royal Road.