Ancient India & Iran Trust 30th Anniversary Appeal
n 2008 the Ancient India & Trust will be celebrating 30 years of success, promoting both scholarly research and popular interest in the early civilisations and languages of the Indian Subcontinent, Iran and Central Asia. This anniversary sees the launch of a campaign to raise £3.5 million to finance a new resource centre, to be built as an extension to the Trust’s existing premises in Cambridge. This will be used to accommodate and broaden access to the Trust’s rapidly growing library, and will enable the Trust to have an up to date lecture room and so increase the scope and outreach of its activities. As a unique, independent charity, the Trust has established a firm reputation among academic and cultural networks in Cambridge, the UK, India and Pakistan and several other parts of the world. The time has now come to improve its facilities so that it can continue to support this sphere of scholarly and general interest, as well as promote further understanding of a part of the world that is seen to be increasingly significant.
 
The Objectives and Activities of the Trust
The idea of the Ancient India & Iran Trust came to the founding Trustees in the 1970s, as they became aware that the Indian subcontinent together with Iran, Afghanistan & parts of Central Asia was a ‘neglected quarter’ of the world in terms of British cultural life and scholarship. Britain had had a close association with the Indian subcontinent in particular for over three centuries and had unrivalled resources for the study of its culture, art and history, in places like the India Office Library, the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Britain has also had a longstanding relationship with Iran. Yet, in the wake of South Asian independence there were very few institutions, teaching posts or funds devoted to the promotion of popular or scholarly interest in any of these regions. The Trust was therefore set up in 1978 to provide a focal point where scholars and members of the public with interests in the cultures of the ancient Indian and Iranian worlds could meet and discuss matters of
common interest and use its unique library. It is the only independent institution of its kind in Europe.

Today, the Trust runs a regular series of public lectures, Visiting Fellowship programmes and a bursary scheme for people wishing to come and use its library and other resources in Cambridge. It also organises and hosts seminars and conferences, high profile lectures and occasional exhibitions, and has produced a number of publications. It was the home of the British Archaeological Mission to Pakistan in the 1980s and has provided a base for three external research projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): The Manichean Dictionary Project (1999-2005) and Bactrian Chronology Project (2004-7) and The Christian Library from Turfan (2008-2011). In 2005 the Trust was voted runner up in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category of the Charity Awards.

The Trust has made a notable contribution to scholarship in Cambridge, independent of but alongside the university. In light of the recent restructuring of the Faculty for Oriental Studies at the University and the diminishment of subjects such as Sanskrit, Hindi and the prehistory and archaeology of the Indian subcontinent, it can play a major part in filling the gap. Its library, lectures and other events are open to everyone, and the Trust plays an important role in promoting knowledge about different cultures and faiths –­­ including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – represented in British society today. As general interest in these areas continues to grow, the Trust has a great deal to offer in providing people with an informal and accessible forum for intercultural and multi-faith understanding.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                         
However, to develop its activities, more space is needed. The Trust’s premises, a Victorian House with book lined rooms and spacious, pleasant grounds, located close to the rail station and the City centre, is much appreciated by visitors for its convenience, distinct character and congenial atmosphere. Much work has been carried out in stages over the last 30 years, as funds have