Whitfield, Susan. 2018. Silk, slaves, and stupas: Material culture of the Silk Road. Oakland, California: University of California Press.
Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with a new captivating portrait focusing on material things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road—those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia.
Susan Whitfield, author of Life Along the Silk Road, is a scholar, curator, writer, and traveler who has been exploring the history, art, religions, cultures, objects, exploration, and people of the Silk Road for the past three decades.
Problems of Chronology in Gandharan Art
The first Gandhara Connections workshop, Oxford, 23-24 March 2017.
The Gandhara Connections project identifies chronology and dating as one of the key problems outstanding in the study of Gandharan art. Chronology is not only fundamental for establishing the nature of Gandharan art’s connections with the traditions of Greece and Rome, but also for any other systematic attempt to put it in context or explain its development.
For more details about the workshop, see the draft programme.
The Oriental Institute and the Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago, announce a conference to be held October 5-7, 2016.
The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan: Rule and Resistance in the Hindu Kush, circa 600 BCE-650 CE
In the first millennia BCE and CE, successive empires sought to incorporate the archipelago of territories in and around the Hindu Kush and to install their structures of rule. The Achaemenians, Seleucids, and Sasanians endeavored — and sometimes pretended — to rule regions of Afghanistan from their courts located in the Near Eastern core, upward of 2500 km distant. The Kushans, for their part, made Bactra and Begram the bases of an empire that extended far beyond into India and Central Asia. Apart from distance, these empires confronted a political geography in the Hindu Kush that was — like the Caucasus — uniquely unfavorable to imperial governance, as well as populations with disparate cultures, social structures, and political traditions. Afghanistan thus provides a test of the capacities of ancient imperial regimes to overcome distance, verticality, and difference to integrate territories into their trans-regional and trans-cultural orders. As even a passing familiarity with the history of the region suggests, efforts at empire failed at least as often as they succeeded in a geographical and cultural landscape highly conducive what James Scott calls the “art[s] of not being governed.” The conference aims to focus on the limits of empire in Afghanistan, as a means of better comprehending the workings of the regimes that laid claim to its territories and the responses of its populations.
The conference convenes archaeologists, art historians, historians, philologists, and numismatists to debate current research in the context of ongoing theoretical debates concerning the formation, endurance, and limits of imperial systems within a highland political ecology.
For a detailed programme and abstracts, see Symposium: The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan | The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
Dabrowa, Edward (ed.). 2016. Central Asia and Iran: Greeks, Parthians, Kushans and Sasanians (Electrum 22). Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press.
This volume contains 12 studies on political, social, economic, and religious aspects of the history of Central Asia and Iran in the period from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fifth century C.E. by leading specialists in the field. They interpret and reconstructing the region’s past based on various kinds of evidence, including literary, archaeological, linguistic, and numismatic. Some papers present the findings of recent archaeological excavations in Old Nisa and Uzbekistan for the first time.
Table of Contents
de la Vaissière, Etienne, Ph. Marquis & J. Bendezu-Sarmiento. 2015. A Kushan military camp near Bactra. In Harry Falk (ed.), Kushan histories. Literary sources and selected papers from a symposium at Berlin, December 5th to 7th, 2013, 241–254. Bremen: Hempen Verlag.
We had previously announced the book here. This is to provide a link to Etienne's paper.
Falk, Harry (ed.). 2015. Kushan histories. Literary sources and selected papers from a symposium at Berlin, December 5 to 7, 2013 (Monographien zur indischen Archäologie, Kunst und Philologie 23). Bremen: Hempen Verlag.
Harry Falks “Kushan Histories“ discusses new research concerning the Kushan dynasty and is based on a Symposium held from December 5-7th, 2013 in Berlin.
The first part of the book introduces the literary sources. After naming the primary sources and translations a wide range of texts presented chronologically gives an overview of the Kushan history in its totality.
In the second part of “Kushan Histories” five papers deal with different religious, military and cultural aspects of the Kushan dynasty: How were the expansion of Buddhism and the dynasty linked to each other and which role did Zoroastrianism play among the Kushans? How can new geographical perspectives prove the former existence of a military camp of the Kushans north of the Bactra oasis? Which historical data regarding Kanishka’s conquest of India can be drawn from a Bactrian inscription and what did the female deity Nana mean to the Kushans?
Table of Contents
Continue reading Kushan Histories
Jongeward, David & Joe Cribb. 2015. Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian, and Kidarite Coins. American Numismatic Society.
This catalogue presents all the Kushan coins in the American Numismatic Society, with selected illustrations, detailed descriptions and commentary. The production system of Kushan coinage is presented with major revisions of chronology and organization compared with previous publications. This presentation has been based on the latest coin-based research, including die studies and site find analysis. The coins are classified by ruler, metal, mint, production phase, denomination, type and variety. Introductory essays present the historical and cultural contexts of the kings and their coins. All the ANS gold coins and a selection of copper coins are illustrated. This catalogue also features two series of coins issued by the Kushano-Sasanian and the Kidarite Hun rulers of former Kushan territory because they followed and adapted the Kushan coinage system.