Iran Across the East/West Trade: Routes of Communication and Exchange, Products of Exchange, and Networks of Trade Circa 500-900 CE

Workshop organized by Parvaneh Pourshariati (ISAW Visiting Research Scholar)

The central location of Iran in the overland routes of trade and communication between western and eastern Asia, throughout the historical and up to the early modern period, has been long acknowledged by the scholarly community. Yet the overland trade routes, networks of East/West trade and exchange, or the products of exchange of this world in late antiquity and the early medieval periods have yet to attract the scholarly attention that they deserve. This lacuna is especially felt in the Late Antique period of Iranian history (circa 500-900 CE). This workshop, conceived as an interdisciplinary dialogue, seeks to further highlight the parameters of research on this important aspect of Late Antique history of western Asia. How central was Iran, if at all, to the networks of trade and exchange in the Late Antique world? What role did it play, if any, in connecting the Byzantine Empire to China, and what are some of the analytical tools through which we can further investigate the socio-political and cultural contexts and implications of the East/West trade at this crucial juncture of world history.

Moderator, Morning Sessions: Parvaneh Pourshariati (ISAW; New York City College of Technology, CUNY)

9:30am - Parvaneh Pourshariati (ISAW; New York City College of Technology, CUNY)
Introduction and Opening Remarks: "Routes of Communication & Exchange, Products of Exchange & Networks of Trade circa 500-900 CE: Whither Iran?"

10:00am - Aleksandr Naymark (Hofstra University)
"Some Thoughts on the Northern Trade of Iran, Khorezm and Sogdiana, before the Samanids"

Discussant & Chair: Sören Stark (ISAW)

10:45am - Coffee Break

11:15am - Richard Bulliet (Columbia University)
"Livestock on the Silk Road" 

Discussant & Chair: Roderick B. Campbell  (ISAW)

12:00pm - Lunch Break

Moderator, Afternoon Sessions: Scott McDonough (William Paterson University)

1:00pm - Jonathan Skaff (ISAW; Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania)
"The Slave Road? West Asian Slaves and Slavers at Turfan, 450-733" 

Discussant & Chair: Elizabeth Murphy (ISAW)

1:45pm - Annette Juliano (ISAW; Rutgers University, Newark)
"Pearl Borders and Roundels Again: Central Asian Textile Patterns and Buddhist Art in the Northern Dynasties (386-589) in China and in Xinjiang"

Discussant & Chair: Judith Lerner (ISAW)

2:30pm - Coffee Break

3:00pm - John Haldon (Princeton University)
"Silk, Sasanians and Strategy: the View from Constantinople"

Discussant & Chair: Robert Hoyland (ISAW)

3:45pm - Michael Bates (American Numismatic Society)
"Coins and Trade on the Silk Road" 

Discussant & Chair: Richard Bulliet (Columbia University)

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Registration is required at