Art on the Silk and Spice Rd
This Visual Studies course is focused around the land routes that link the Mediterranean West to the Far Eastern regions of modern day China, Korea, and Japan - a distance of more than 5000 miles. This vast network of pathways emerged in response to the needs and lifestyles of tribal peoples, nomads, and traders during a period extending from the lst millenium BCE well into the 15th century, only to be rediscovered by European adventurers at the end of the 19th - early 20th centuries. The assigned readings and lectures for this course will explore the primary entrepots which developed along this commercial artery bridging East and West; the myriad architectural landmarks which arose in those centers; and the rich variety of portable objects (metals, glass, wood, ivory, textiles) recovered from these locales, providing both questions and answers about the diverse peoples who lived and travelled this terrain, trading everything from the finest silks and jades; who bartered goods, exchanged stories, and carried their spiritual beliefs and texts, and technologies to lands both near and distant. Clearly the Silk Route as it came to be known in the 19th century was a constantly evolving network that formed an important economic and cultural role in the face of shifting temporal and political frames. Was this but a precursor to current trends in globalization that we see today?