Prologue to the 60th Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference
(60th Meeting of the PIAC, Székesfehérvár 2017)
It was in 1958 when the founding fathers established the Permanent International Altaistic Conference in Mainz, Germany, among them scholars the names of whom the members of my generation have only learned in school. For us Aalto, Bawden, Doerfer, von Gabain, Heissig, Menges, Pritsak, Sagaster, Sinor, to make an incomplete list of the participants of the first Meeting, were idols symbolizing the golden age of Altaic studies. The idea of the PIAC itself was Walther Heissig’s who served as the first Secretary-General for the first years.
By the time of the founding of the PIAC as well as in the subsequent decades the debate on the existence of a genealogic linguistic relation of the region was at its height. From the very beginning, however, other related topics (i.e. other than linguistics and philology) also infiltrated to the Meetings, thanks to the ever growing number of participants. Behind the coulisse of the cold war participation of scholars from the Eastern bloc was a difficult issue and with that stance PIAC has seen ups and downs in terms of attendance, but – as Denis Sinor put it – it was the propitious start that helped PIAC survive, to which the genuine PIAC spirit should be added that kept the Meetings running until the present day.
We hope to experience this spirit again, for the 60th time in the historical city of Székesfehérvár, Hungary.