2012 Issyk Kul Expedition: Meet the Team

In our last post we introduced you to the fascinating legend of Tamerlane’s palace on the northern shore of Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, and why we believe that remains of the structure may indeed exist under the waters of this beautiful, high-altitude lake that has been a critical point on the Silk Road for millennia. Over the past ten days, we’ve been busy studying the site using snorkel and scuba, as well as advanced sub-bottom profiling equipment. Before we update you on the great progress we’re making, we’d like to introduce you to the Issyk Kul expedition team that’s making this season happen in the field.

The Issyk Kul Field Team:

Dr. Fredrik Hiebert; credit: Brad Vest

Dr. Fredrik Hiebert is director of the Issyk Kul archaeological project. He is National Geographic’s archaeology fellow and has conducted field work along the overland Silk Road in Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, as well as now in Kyrgyzstan. After almost 25 years of doing underwater archaeology from a boat, he’s finally in the water (and he loves it!).


Dr. Vasily Ploskikh; credit: Brad Vest

Dr. Vasily Ploskikh is the team field director for the Issyk Kul archaeological project. He is the director of the University Museum of the Russian Slavic University in Bishkek and a specialist on the history of Issyk Kul, about which he has written three books. Vasily has been visiting the ancient sites around and in the lake since he was just one year old, and has the amazing ability to identify the most important artifacts hidden among the rocks and sand of the lake bottom.


Kristin Romey; credit Brad Vest

Kristin Romey is the director of field operations for the Issyk Kul archaeological project. She’s worked as an underwater archaeologist on projects ranging from Byzantine shipwrecks to sacred Maya cenotes, and is the former executive editor of Archaeology magazine. Kristin managed to acquire and pack all of the expedition equipment from her tiny NYC apartment with the help of Amazon.com and her long-suffering UPS delivery man.


Alan Turchik; credit Brad Vest

Alan Turchik is a mechanical engineer with the National Geographic Remote Imaging Lab. He has supported several archaeological and scientific expeditions across the globe utilizing the latest remote imaging technology, from the Middle East to the middle of the Pacific. Alan is prized for being able to build the most complex field equipment from as little as a bit of rope and discarded lumber, as long as he has his trusty sawzall.


Shamil Asanov; credit: Brad Vest

Shamil Asanov is the chief field assistant for the Issyk Kul archaeological project. He is a hydrotechnic engineer who has worked on several expeditions at Issyk Kul with Dr. Vasily Ploskikh and has been coming to the lake since he was three years old.


Brad Vest; courtesy Fredrik Hiebert

Brad Vest is the project photographer and a 2012 National Geographic Magazine photography intern. He is an award-winning documentary photographer currently completing a Masters in Visual Communication from Ohio University. His work can be seen at www.bradvest.com.


Dr. Vladimir Ploskikh; credit: Brad Vest

And no mention of the field team can be made without including Dr. Vladimir Ploskikh, vice president of the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan. He has worked as a historian specializing in the late medieval period since 1961, and has authored numerous important scientific and popular works on the history of Kyrgyzstan and Issyk Kul, which he has been actively studying since 1985. Dr. Ploskikh’s archaeological and historical study of Issyk Kul has laid the groundwork for modern scholarship on this lake.

We’ll be posting later this week on the amazing high- and low-tech approaches we’re taking to examine the site. Stay tuned!


Human Journey


Meet the Author
Kristin Romey serves as a consultant for the National Geographic Society, and is the Director of Field Operations for the Issyk Kul 2012 Expedition. She has worked on underwater archaeological expeditions since 1997, and was one of the first Westerners to conduct underwater research in the Black Sea. Since then, she has participated in surveys and excavations ranging from Byzantine shipwrecks to sacred Maya cenotes. Romey is also the former executive editor of Archaeology magazine, and is currently a contributing editor to the Explorers Journal. She was named a fellow of the Explorers Club in 2005.