Opening of the Digital Exhibition: The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Roads

This article appeared in ISAW Newsletter 23, Winter 2019. For both up-to-date and retrospective information on public lectures and other activities, please consult the Events section of our website.

See caption Wall Painting of Sogdian Banqueters. Panjikent, Tajikistan (ancient Sogdiana), Site XVI:10, first half of 8th century CE. H. 136 × W. 364 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, SA-16215-16217 Organized by Judith A. Lerner (ISAW) and Thomas Wide (Freer|Sackler)
January 28, 2019 5:00pm

This “born-digital” event celebrated the going “live” of the first exhibition, digital or otherwise, devoted to the Sogdians, a Central Asian Iranian people who served as “middlemen” in the circulation of people and commodities as well as religious and artistic ideas, along the Silk Roads, during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. The exhibition combines the latest academic research with a variety of digital media: from interactive maps to 3D photogrammetry, drone footage of archaeological sites, to video interviews with leading scholars. It is a case study of how the digital humanities can bring scholarship on the ancient world to new audiences.

This collaborative project has been organized by the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. It is made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation, with additional support from the Thaw Charitable Trust and the Smithsonian Provost Scholarly Studies Award program. It has involved curators, scholars, digital designers, and graduate students affiliated with NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities, ISAW, and Bard Graduate Center, along with partner institutions in Russia, France, Uzbekistan and Japan and an international group of scholars.

Because ISAW has taken a leading role in the development of the exhibition, it hosted a brief program featuring those who have been most instrumental in its development. At the reception that followed, guests were able to go online to view the exhibition.