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You are here: Home > Events > Events Archive > Academic Year 2015-2016 > Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Silk Roads and Steppe Roads of Medieval China: History Unearthed from Tombs, I

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Silk Roads and Steppe Roads of Medieval China: History Unearthed from Tombs, I

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Silk Roads and Steppe Roads of Medieval China: History Unearthed from Tombs, I

Gold Funerary Mask from the Tomb of Shi Daode (613-678) in Guyuan, Ningxia, China; Courtesy of Guyuan Museum.

A Slave Road? Sogdian Merchants and Foreign Slaves at Turfan

Jonathan K. Skaff

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

 

Dr. Jonathan Skaff is a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW who will deliver the annual M.I. Rostovtzeff Lectures in Spring 2016. Skaff is a Professor of History at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where he also has served as Director of International Studies. He developed a lasting fascination with Eurasian cultural connections after teaching English in Shanghai in the mid-1980s and traveling through northwest China, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Tibet. Since receiving his doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1998, his research has investigated medieval China’s frontier interactions with Inner Asia. Most prominently, his book, Sui-Tang China and its Turko-Mongol Neighbors: Culture, Power and Connections, 580-800 (Oxford University Press, 2012) revealed previously unrecognized cultural connections between China and peoples of the Eurasian steppe involving diplomacy, warfare, ideology, and political networking. A Chinese translation is forthcoming from the Social Sciences Academic Press.

Skaff’s Rostovtzeff lectures, entitled Silk Roads and Steppe Roads of Medieval China: History Unearthed from Tombs, comprise four case studies that use paper documents, stone epitaphs and artifacts excavated from tombs to illuminate China’s interactions with Eurasia. “Silk Roads” is the popular name for east-west land routes—linking East, South, and West Asia and serving as conduits transmitting luxury goods, technology, religion, and artistic motifs. “Steppe Roads” is a term coined by David Christian, who defines them as north-south routes linking the Eurasian steppe’s vast pastoral grasslands with the agricultural regions to the south that facilitated exchanges of goods such as Chinese silks and Mongolian horses. The lecture series argues that the Silk and Steppe Roads were networks through which Eurasian peoples, who perceived their societies to be unique, spun overlapping and entangled webs of culture. The transit hubs of Silk and Steppe Roads were particularly active sites of cultural contestation, experimentation, and mutual influence that had an impact on the historical development of China and Inner Asia.

The first lecture entitled "A Slave Road? Sogdian Merchants and Foreign Slaves at Turfan" introduces the Silk Roads through a case study of Sogdians living as a minority at the Chinese oasis city of Turfan in the six and seventh centuries. The Sogdians were early inhabitants of modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who spoke an Iranian dialect, and began to migrate eastward by the fourth century CE to settle in cities and towns on the Silk Roads. The lecture will update Skaff's previous publications on Sogdian farmers and merchants at Turfan by considering recently-discovered paper documents and epitaphs.

Admission to lecture closes 10 minutes after scheduled start time.

Please check isaw.nyu.edu for event updates.

Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp

Event Details

  • 03/29/2016
  • 06:00 PM
  • ISAW Lecture Hall
RSVP Required

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