Few images are more romanticized in the West than those of the Silk Road. Camel caravans laden with silk, carpets, and exotic spices have populated the western imagination since Marco Polo’s remarkable journey into China. However, the exchange on the Silk Road, or perhaps better the Silk Roads, was far more nuanced and complex. People and goods, and above all ideas, have moved east and west, as well as north and south, since the third century BC when the Chinese emperors actively sought the heavenly horses of the Ferghana Valley for their cavalry and Alexander the Great marched his army through Transoxania into the Indus Valley. This illustrated lecture discusses the architectural and religious heritage of the silk road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva in modern-day Uzbekistan as a lens through which we can understand how the material culture, population, as well as diverse religious and cultural ideas, interacted to create one of the most culturally complex, religiously diverse, and tolerant routes of human interaction ever seen in the history of humanity. The legacy of these Silk Roads exchanges can still be seen and experienced through the architecture and religious practices extant in Uzbekistan today.
George H. Lewis is an international artist whose body of work explores and portrays the depth and diversity of east-west relations.
Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis is a Visiting Assistant Professor and the Deputy Executive Officer of the M.A. in Liberal Studies at the Graduate Center.
September 29, 2015
The Graduate Center,
365 Fifth Avenue
at 34th Street
New York, NY 10016
Free and Open to the Public
Middle Eastern and Middle Eastern American Center