The Silk Road in Late Antiquity: Politics, Trade, and Culture Contact between Rome and China, 300-700 CE
Lecture by Peter Brown
Given at the Silk Road Symposium, held at the Penn Museum in March 2011
This is a study of the modes of political and cultural communication which led to a rare level of “intervisibility” between the various societies and states along the Silk Road in the Late Antique period (roughly 300-700 CE). It will examine the cultural meanings of the objects which passed along the Silk Road as examples of a form of “archaic globalization”. It ends by examining the meaning to contemporaries of the deliberate hybridization of objects taken from distant lands that were put on display in their respective societies. It is this bricolage of objects, to create spaces that were perceived both as local and non-local, which accounts for the passing of cultural and artistic influences along the kingdoms of the Silk Road from Byzantium to China in the Late Antique period.