A Hundred Years of Dunhuang, 1907-2007

Project team

Department of Coins and Medals 


  • Frances Wood, The British Library
  • Joanne Blore, The British Academy
  • Angela Pusey, The British Academy

Supported by

  • The British Academy
  • The British Museum
  • Sino-British Fellowship Trust

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In May 1907, the Daoist caretaker of the Dunhuang Buddhist caves in northwest China revealed to Aurel Stein (1862-1943) a hidden library in Cave 17. The library had been sealed a thousand years earlier and was packed with documents, manuscripts and paintings. This discovery revolutionised ‘oriental studies’ throughout the world in the early twentieth century.

In this centenary year we seek to reflect on the discovery, to review its impact on ‘oriental studies’, including the writing and re-writing of history and to discuss directions for the future. The rich finds from Dunhuang have implications beyond ‘oriental studies’ and need to be understood as part of world culture.

This project has been completed. The conference took place in London in May 2007. There are no conference proceedings.


H. Wang (ed.), Sir Aurel Stein. Proceedings of the British Museum Study Day 2002 (London, British Museum Occasional Paper 142, 2004)

H. Wang, Money on the Silk Road. The Evidence from Eastern Central Asiato c. AD 800 (London, British Museum Press, 2004)

S. Whitfield, Aurel Stein on the Silk Road (London, British Museum Press, 2004)

J. Falconer, A. Kelecsenyi, A. Karteszi and L. Russell-Smith (E. Apor and H. Wang eds.), Catalogue of the Collections of Sir Aurel Stein in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (published jointly by the British Museum and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest [LHAS Oriental Series 11], 2002)

H. Wang (ed.), Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK (London, British Museum Occasional Paper 129, 1999)

Photograph of Dunhuang

Photograph of Dunhuang.