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The Silk Roads: arts, history and exploration

8 July 2019 @ 9:30 am - 11 July 2019 @ 5:00 pm BST

The Silk Roads: arts, history and exploration


Buddha, 2nd c., National Museum New Delhi 68.187.
Photographer Daniel Waugh

A Royal Asiatic Society Summer School

Monday July 8 – Thursday July 11, 2019


The influence of the interactions enabled by the Afro-Eurasian trade routes known as the Silk Roads are much in discussion today, especially with China’s Belt Road Initiative. But what is the story of the Silk Road? Does such a concept make sense? What does it mean in terms of the history and arts of pre-modern Afro-Eurasia?

In this 4 day course, leading scholars on the historical Silk Road will introduce the term, its history and the 20th century explorations which brought the role of central Asia to the fore. The course will then look in some details at aspects of Silk Road art and technologies: silk production, books and printing, glass, ceramics and metalware. The participants will have the chance to see original manuscripts and books at the British Library and the Royal Asiatic Society, introduced by their curators.

This is a course intended for a general audience. No prior knowledge is required, although a short bibliography will be supplied for those wishing to do some reading in advance. The group will be limited to 12-15 people and therefore there will be ample opportunity for questions and group discussion.


The Silk Roads: arts, history and exploration



Venue:           The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD

Duration:      4 days Monday-Thursday non residential

Cost:               £600 Non-residential including 3 lunches and tea and coffee (Fellows receive a 12% discount).




Dr. Susan Whitfield   Honorary Senior Lecturer, University College London

Dr. Alison Ohta          Director, Royal Asiatic Society

Dr. Peter Coles          Morus Londinium and Goldsmiths’ College London

Mélodie Doumy         IDP, The British Library


For further information: ao@royalasiaticsociety.org;

Photographer: John Falconer




Monday: 8 July The Silk Road: History, Art and Exploration


09.30-10.30: Welcome, introductions and practical matters over coffee

10.30-12.30: The Silk Road: Introduction to its History and Art

12.30-14.00: Sandwich lunch

14.00-17.00: The Silk Road: Exploration and Discovery (2 lectures with break)



The Silk Roads: arts, history and exploration


Tuesday 9 July: Silks and Sericulture on the Silk Road


10.00-11.30: Sericulture and its Spread

11.30-13.00: Silks in Buddhism

13.00-14.30: Lunch

14.30-16.00: Silks in Christianity

16.30-19.00: England’s Early Silk Industry: Walk and lecture in St James led by Dr. Peter Coles

Followed by early evening drinks



Wednesday 10 July: Books, paper and printing on the Silk Road


10.00-11.00:  Lecture on development of books, paper and printing in East Asia (SW)

11.00-13.00:  Visit to British Library to view Silk Road manuscripts (MD)

13.00-14.30:  Lunch

14.30-16.00: ‘Judging Books by their Covers’, Islamic Book bindings (AO) followed by session in RAS Library


Thursday 11 July: Glass, Ceramics and Metalware


Three lectures telling the stories of particular Silk Road objects.

10.00-11.30: A Roman glass bowl (SW)

11.30-13.00: An Islamic ceramic dish (SW)

13.00-14.30:  Lunch

14.30-16.00:  A Bactrian ewer (SW)

Closing Discussion


8 July 2019 @ 9:30 am BST
11 July 2019 @ 5:00 pm BST
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Matty Bradley


Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London,NW1 2HDUnited Kingdom
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+44 (0)20 7388 4539
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