Silver-gilt vessel dating to seventh-eighth centuries found in hoard near Xi'an. Shaanxi Provincial Museum, China


Silk Roads

  • Begins: Tuesday 11 January 2022
    Until: Tuesday 15 February 2022
    (11am-1pm NB: There is no session on 8 February)
  • Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
  • Lecturer: Dr Susan Whitfield

The Silk Roads is a simple name used to encompass increased and persistent trade, diplomatic, religious, and other interactions by land and sea across Afro-Eurasia. These started at the end of the first millennium BC and were enabled by the rise of several stable empires. The resulting art and architecture reflect the spread and adaption of religions, technologies, materials, and designs across cultural boundaries.

This course, which concentrates on the first millennium AD, will consider various objects which exemplify the richness of these interactions. The course will cover a wide range of materials, techniques and designs and cover the breadth of the Silk Roads.


Week 1: Silk Roads: history and cultures

Week 2: Silk: the spread of technology, design, and fashion

Week 3: Religions: art, architecture, and manuscripts

Week 4: Glass, Glazes and Ceramics

Week 5: Gold, Silver and Gemstones


Susan Whitfield is Professor in Silk Road Studies at SISJAC, University of East Anglia. She is a scholar, writer, lecturer, and traveller of the Silk Roads. During 25 years at the British Library curating their collection of over 50,000 items from central Asia she organised several exhibitions and directed an international project to make similar material in collections worldwide freely available online.

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Keeping you safe

The wellbeing and peace of mind of our members is paramount as we begin to return to live events this autumn. All our venues are operating in accordance with covid-secure recommendations. Seating will be socially distanced, and we will request participants to wear face masks during our events to help to keep everybody protected. If any members are exempt they should advise the person registering participants at the venue who will direct them to a suitable seat.

If government regulations or recommendations change we will respond accordingly and inform participants of any necessary changes.