Every week the Center for Ancient Studies sends a list of events related to the ancient world in the Philadelphia area to interested members.

If you wish to subscribe to this list please follow the instructions in our Contact page.
Movement, Mobility, and the Journey: Ancient Actions and Perspectives
Saturday, 29 February 2020
8:50 AM
Penn Museum Widener Lecture Hall, University of Pennsylvania
Conference Schedule, Saturday, February 29th 8:00-8:50 Breakfast and Registration 8:50-9:00 Opening Remarks (Petra Creamer) Panel 1: Travel Chair: Autumn Melby 9:00-9:20 “The Original I-95: The Delaware River, Trails, and Movement through Lenapehoking”Justin Reamer 9:20-9:40 “The Amarna Messengers on the Road” Ziting (Rebecca) Wang 9:40-10:00 “The Egyptian Road Less Taken: Mapping the Least Cost Paths from Coptos to the Red Sea Coast” Morgan Moroney 10:00-10:20 “The Origin and Influence of Tang Dynasty Buddhist sculptures around Chengdu”Jingyi Zhou 10:20-10:40 “Divided Collections in Motion between the United States and Iran” Kyle Olson 10:40-10:50 Discussant: Autumn Melby 10:50-11:20 Coffee Break Panel 2: Space Chair: Chelsea Cohen 11:20-11:40 “Moving Theōriā: Embodying Separation from and Access to Divine Knowledge at Didyma” Nathan Leach 11:40-12:00 “The Footsteps of the Romans: An Examination of the Low Ham Mosaic through the Lens of Narrative Art” Nicole Vellidis 12:00-12:20 “Building Community through Movement: Experiences of Architecture in Jerash” Amy Miranda 12:20-12:40 “Sacred Channels: Mediating Ritual Movement in the Passage of the Theōroi at Thasos” Mary Danisi 12:40-12:50 Discussant: Chelsea Cohen 12:50-1:40 Lunch (Provided) Panel 3: Migration Chair: Mark Van Horn 1:40-2:00 “Ancient Near Eastern Cultures of Mobility: A New Mobilities Paradigm Perspective” Eric Trinka 2:00-2:20 “Frustrated Movements and Mobility Inequalities in Mid- Republican Rome” Jordan Rogers 2:20-2:40 “The Family Stone: Extractive Operations, Human Mobility, and Family Migration in the Roman Empire” Melissa Ludke 2:40-3:00 “Residential In-Migration at Teotihuacan, Mexico: A Comparison of Mobility Patterns between Socioeconomic Status Groups” Gina Buckley 3:00-3:20 “Genes of Migration: Applications of aDNA to Migration Studies” Rachel Dickerson 3:20-3:30 Discussant: Mark Van Horn 3:30-4:00 Coffee Break Panel 4: Representation Chair: Kyle West 4:00-4:20 “Movement, Social Location, and Identity Distinction: Benjaminite Migration in the Hebrew Bible” Jonathan Schmidt-Swartz 4:20-4:40 “I Made the Road a River: Roads and Rivers as Symbols of Civilization in Egyptian and Assyrian Royal Ideology and the Book of Isaiah” James Duguid 4:40-5:00 “Moving through a Microcosm: Imagined Journeys in the Mosaics of Piazza Armerina” Emily French 5:00-5:20 “The Building Network: Mapping the Spread of Ideas Through the Theaters of Roman Gaul” John Sigmier 5:20-5:40 “Adventurous Buddhist Pilgrims: Biographies of 7th-century Chinese monks losing their lives on pilgrimages to India” Shuheng (Diana) Zhang 5:40-5:50 Discussant: Kyle West 5:50-6:00 Closing Remarks (Petra Creamer) 6:30 Dinner


From Opulent Banquets to Drudgery: The World of Mesopotamian Musicians
Monday, 2 March 2020
12:00 PM
Regine Pruzsinsky, Freiburg University
Jones Hall 202, Princeton University
Light Lunch Served.


Urban Renewal and Recovery: The Case of Antioch on the Orontes
Monday, 2 March 2020
4:30 PM
Andrea de Giorgi, Florida State University
McCormick 106, Princeton University
Antioch is the most significant and continuously occupied major city of the eastern Mediterranean. An ongoing flurry of research initiatives attests to the vitality of the field of Antiochene studies. So too, the scholarly community and public are ready to learn the city’s long and rich history and embrace it. Whether bringing into focus the materiality of the city or its pivotal role in the religious discourse of Late Antiquity, which reverberated throughout the Medieval periods, these analyses teem with the energy, contradictions, and dilemmas of a city that eludes firm characterizations. But Antioch is also a city that time and again had to recover from the action of earthquakes. From the early days of the Seleucid kings to the twelve seismic events that left the city in shambles during the sixth century AD, Antioch had to cope with the frail nature of its settlement. These disasters, like conquests, also became tropes and part of the city’s lore. While their actual impact is difficult to evaluate, it is apparent that they seem to have permanently altered the course of the classical city and ushered in its successive transformations. The residents’ unique resiliency, as made manifest by the relentless activity of rebuilding and their ability to constantly “reinvent” the city, are the main questions that this talk addresses.


The Old Man and the Sea: Shinra Myōjin and Buddhist Networks of the East Asian ‘Mediterranean’
Monday, 2 March 2020
4:30 PM
Sujung Kim, DePauw University
Jones Hall 202, Princeton University


Land Use Transformations in First Millennium BC Northern Mesopotamia
Monday, 2 March 2020
5:00 PM
Jason Herrmann, University of Pennsylvania
Penn Museum 345, University of Pennsylvania


Uses of the Past: From the Pyramids to Taq-i-Bostan
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
12:00 PM
Renata Holod, University of Pennsylvania
Penn Museum L1, University of Pennsylvania
Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the past in the shape of monuments and ruins of them exists in the landscape throughout. Ignored or glorified, these sites either became re-inscribed into later art and architecture, and literature of the ruling political and economic elites, or were relegated to the care of significant minorities, or had their elements reused in younger buildings. They also became part of a tourist circuit, and more recently victims of wanton destruction. This study will discuss the fate of significant earlier buildings and sites, and their uses (and misuses) through time up to the present day.


Comparing Greek and Latin Astronomical Literature: A Case Study from 15th Century Crete
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
4:00 PM
Alberto Bardi, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Old Library 224, Bryn Mawr College


Taxation in Fourth Century Egypt: A Peculiar Case of P. Giss. II 128
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
6:00 PM
Marcin Kotyl, ISAW
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
Marcin Kotyl is a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW. He received his MA in Classics (2011) and PhD in Papyrology (2017) from the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He is currently a research assistant professor in the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Warsaw University. His research focuses mainly on tax and account documents from Roman and Late Roman period. He is also a philologist working sometimes with literary papyri, mainly Homer. During his stay at ISAW Marcin works on his most recent project “Taxation in late Roman Egypt through the prism of an unpublished tax register from the Hermopolite Nome” supported by the National Science Center (Poland). The core of the project is to provide an edition and historical elaboration of 44-pages unpublished codex from the Giessen Collections. Then many aspects of taxation will be investigated, including the method of tax assessment, account of tax deduction and statement of tax arrears. The project as a whole provides an exciting opportunity to advance our knowledge on key fiscal changes that have occurred during the fourth century in Egypt. Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp


Lighting the Way: Doorways into the Late-Antique Jewish Home
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
3:00 PM
Gregg E. Gardner, University of British Columbia
Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies , University of Pennsylvania
Open to Penn Faculty and Graduate Students; RSVP required, please email carrielo@upenn.edu


Monastic Lessons in Cloth from Late Antique Egypt: Worn, Embodied, and Remembered
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
4:30 PM
Thelma Thomas, New York University
Scheide Caldwell House 103, Princeton University


The Colossus of Rhodes: Towards a Spatio-Temporal Aesthetic of Scale in Hellenistic Sculpture
Thursday, 5 March 2020
4:30 PM
Ruth Bielfeldt, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
McCormick Hall 106, Princeton University


What do we talk about when we talk about late antique cities? An archaeological point of view
Thursday, 5 March 2020
4:30 PM
Andrea Augenti, University of Bologna
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
More than 30 years ago, a debate that took place in the journal Archeologia Medievale marked a turning point in the study of post-Roman urbanism. The subject was: can we consider late antique cities as “proper” cities? After some decades, and many archaeological investigations, our perception of this subject has become much different from that pioneering starting point. Are “discontinuity” or “continuity” (in respect to the past) still useful terms to label that segment of urban history? The presentation will explore the most recent data and discuss new perspectives on urban landscapes during late antiquity.


ISAW Archaeology Day
Thursday, 5 March 2020
5:00 PM
ISAW , New York University
**Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp Since its birth, ISAW has been associated with thriving archaeological fieldwork activity. While this was first limited to Roger Bagnall's project in Egypt, the number of faculty active in archaeological research and the number of fieldwork projects based at ISAW have grown consistently over the years, including excavations in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as participation in projects in Greece and in China. Visiting Research Scholars and PhD students have also substantially contributed to the development of archaeological research. Research questions and methodologies cover many areas of interests and expertise. Developments in the last three years have also improved the active role of ISAW in scientific archaeology, particularly in material studies and bio-archaeology. Most ISAW archaeological projects are set in historical periods and deal with the challenging question of integrating textual sources with the archaeological record for the purpose of achieving a holistic view of the past. The inaugural Archaeology Day event at ISAW will provide the opportunity for attendees to learn about the various nodes of archaeological research undertaken by ISAW community members. The day's program will consist of two parts: (1) a poster session in which PhD students and Visiting Research Scholars will present their contributions to archaeological research; and (2) a series of short presentations with accompanying images by the ISAW faculty summarizing the main research questions and results of their various fieldwork projects. Discussion with attendees will take place at a reception following the formal program.


Conversations Greek and Indian: comparative work on Plato's Republic and Shantideva's Bodhicarayavatara
Friday, 6 March 2020
12:00 PM
Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Princeton University
East Pyne 161 , Princeton University
Please RSVP by Monday, March 2nd to eileenrobinson@princeton.edu


TBD
Friday, 6 March 2020
12:00 PM
TBD,
Penn Museum M2, University of Pennsylvania
For more information on the speaker and talk subject, see https://www.sas.upenn.edu/aamw/events or the AAMW weekly email.


Charting the Early Chinese Oikumene
Friday, 6 March 2020
4:30 PM
Min Li, UCLA
Kent 403, Columbia University
The transmitted text of Yugong (Tributes of the Yu) presents the most influential summery of the early Chinese oikumene. Taking the Jinnan Basin as the center of its worldview, the text presents a nonary division of the civilized world known as the Tracks of Great Yu, where the legendary figure allegedly toured and drained flood water at the end of the third millennium BCE. With an inventory of tribute goods and an outline of tribute routes was provided for each region, the text aims at making the landscape legible and subject to political control, thus becoming an integral component for the ideology of kingship and empire in early China by the late first millennium BCE. This seminar will compare the geographic configuration of the Yugong oikumene with the shifting archaeological landscape since the third millennium BCE to evaluate alternative hypotheses about the date, purpose, and sponsorship for the creation of this extraordinary worldview as well as exploring their significant implications for our current understanding of early Chinese history.


The Dark Side of the Nile: Greek and Coptic Paideia in Late Antique Egypt
Monday, 9 March 2020
12:00 PM
Gianfranco Agosti, Sapienza Università di Roma
East Pyne 161, Princeton University


Mind the Gap: Reflections on Late Antique and Medieval Ethiopia
Monday, 9 March 2020
12:00 PM
Aaron Butts, Catholic University of America
Jones Hall 202, Princeton University


The Vulgate Text of Seneca’s De beneficiis 1475-1650
Monday, 9 March 2020
4:30 PM
Bob Kaster, Princeton University
Scheide Caldwell House 209, Princeton University


Talking to a Wall: Social Change and Public Communication in Late Antiquity
Monday, 9 March 2020
5:00 PM
Paolo Liverani, University of Florence
McCormick Hall 101, Princeton University
In Classical Antiquity images and inscriptions have always addressed the beholder, mostly in the funerary context. The deceased addresses the passerby telling him his story or, vice versa, the passerby addresses the deceased with formulae such as “may the earth rest lightly on you.” Late Antiquity developed two new phenomena: a more generalized use of frontality in the figurative art, and the use of the first and second person singular in public inscriptions. Standing before a frontal image, one has the impression that it is watching us, questioning us, looking for a sort of dialogue with us. In several cases, this effect is reinforced and more clearly expressed by an inscription addressing the viewer. What is new is the character of the monument, no longer confined to the private space of a family tomb chamber, but aimed at the wider community of citizens in the public spaces and monuments of the city, or at the Christian congregation in the basilicas erected for the cult of God with sumptuous mosaics accompanied by verse inscriptions. In this talk, the speaker argues that in Late Antiquity, the beholder is no longer a single, passive recipient of a message directed at him. Rather, he develops a more complex identity as he is caught up by the enunciational device, as he is directly addressed and then dialogues with the image, or at least is faced with the dialogue between the characters on the figural stage. This new condition derives from the transformation of society, the new relationship between rulers and subjects and, ultimately, between worshippers and the divine. Inscriptions and the images can be consideredan expression in stone of the “acclaimative habit.”


The “Hunger Years” and the “Sea Peoples”: Preliminary Observations on the Recently Published Letter from the “House of Urtenu” Archive at Ugarit
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
6:00 PM
Yoram Cohen, ISAW
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University


Alaskan Volcanoes and Mediterranean History
Wednesday, 11 March 2020
4:30 PM
Joseph Manning, Yale University
East Pyne 010, Princeton University
This lecture will discuss current research on a previously unknown or not well understood short term driver of climate forcing/climate change in Mediterranean history, explosive volcanic eruptions. In particular, high north latitude volcanic eruptions would appear to be especially important, and by examining the sensitive annual flood of the Nile river, dependent on the East African Monsoon, we can show the direct connection between eruptions and short term societal impacts not only on eastern Mediterranean societies in antiquity, but globally as well. The problems of the integration of climate and historical data, and the interaction of cyclical and long term climatic change with short term climate shocks will also be discussed.


Reading (lots of) Papyri, Writing (new kinds of) Ancient History
Thursday, 12 March 2020
12:00 PM
Joseph Manning, Yale University
, Princeton University
Please rsvp to blleavey@princeton.edu if you plan to attend.


The Empire of Sacrifice: The Great City Yong and the Archaeology of Religion
Friday, 13 March 2020
11:00 AM
Kent Hall 403, Columbia University
Keynote Speakers: Tian Yaqi, Researcher, Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology Recent Archaeological Research on the City Yong of Qin Empire Chen Aidong, Assistant Researcher, Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology Archaeological Studies of the State Sacrifice of Qin in the Vicinity of the Great City Yong Commentators: Robin D.S. Yates, Mcgill University David W. Pankenier, Lehigh University Terence N. D’Altroy, Columbia University Li Feng, Columbia University In recent years, archaeological research at the city Yong 雍 has made important progress to uncover the ecologic system as well as the religious dimension of this great pre-imperial Qin capital. Of the five sacrificial altars of Qin (秦五畤) located in the vicinity of Yong, the most famous altars to Heaven of all time, archaeologists believe that they have found at least three and possibly four. While two (including the Blood Pool 血池) have been excavated in the past two years, excavations are undergoing on the other two in 2019-2020. There is little doubt that these new works will shed important light on the mentality of the Qin Empire and on the religious tradition of early China in general. While the political and military history of the Qin Empire were the subjects of numerous studies, we are only now beginning of understand the role of religion in the formation of that empire.


Useful Bodies in the Ancient Jewish Household
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
3:00 PM
Pratima Gopalakrishnan, Yale University
Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies , University of Pennsylvania
Open to Penn Faculty and Graduate Students; RSVP required, please email carrielo@upenn.edu


A Tale of Two Cities: Sparta, Athens, and White Supremacy
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
4:30 PM
Curtis Dozier, Vassar College
Bond Hall , Swarthmore College


PHAROS: Doing Justice to the Classics
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
6:30 PM
Curtis Dozier, Vassar College
Bond Hall , Swarthmore College


Not all Roads Lead to Rome
Thursday, 19 March 2020
4:30 PM
Liana Brent, University of Pennsylvania
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
Over the course of its long history, the Via Appia has been extended, repaved, rerouted, and eventually, replaced with a modern highway system. Today, the road serves as a type site for mortuary landscapes and streets of the tombs on the outskirts of Rome. As the boundaries of Rome fluctuated over time, the relationships between the Via Appia, city and suburb changed too. But just how representative was the Via Appia of mortuary landscapes of the first to fourth centuries? How have the reconstructed and resurrected tombs along the Via Appia taken on emblematic status over the years, and what do we learn from a deep-time approach to this ancient road?


Evidence for Coffin Reuse in the 21st Dynasty Coffins of the Royal Cache Deir el Bahari 320”
Thursday, 19 March 2020
6:30 PM
Kara Cooney, UCLA
Penn Museum Rainey Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania


Ancient Tsunamis at Caesarea Maritima: Evidence for Coastal and Underwater Geoarchaeological Research
Friday, 20 March 2020
12:00 PM
Beverly Goodman, University of Haifa
Penn Museum M2, University of Pennsylvania


The Formation of Sogdian Culture: On Building and Borrowing
Monday, 23 March 2020
6:00 PM
Pavel Lurje, State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
ISAW ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
In antiquity, Sogdiana stood under the shadow of its southern neighbor, Bactria. Only from the first centuries CE onwards do we find evidence for the expansion of Sogdians out of Sogdiana proper, and from the 4th century CE do we meet Sogdian merchants in China and India. The contact with these developed lands was obviously a driving force for urbanization and an increasing sophistication of culture that took place in Sogdiana during this period. The lecture will focus on the building of fortifications and settlements and will incorporate recent data obtained from the citadel of Panjakent, as well as early examples of monumental art—such as the wooden panels discovered by a Japanese-Uzbek team at Kafir-kala in recent years. The formation of Sogdian culture is deeply linked to the development of Sogdian religion. Its Iranian, Zoroastrian core was enriched with elements borrowed from Mesopotamia, the Greek world, and especially India. The lecture will focus on borrowed Indian concepts and iconographies, in particular the role of Shivaite imagery. Other foreign religions such as Christianity, Manichaeism, and Buddhism were known to the Sogdians but gained little footing in their motherland. Buddhist images, however, can be detected within ‘standard’ Sogdian monuments, and a question arises as to how much the concepts of the teaching of Buddha were incorporated into Sogdian folk religion. RSVP with the code: ISAW


Construction Clues as Conservation Strategy: Destruction, Myth building, and the Heroics of Small Details in Ancient Andean Stones
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
4:30 PM
Stella Nair, UCLA
McCormick Hall 106, Princeton University


In the Aftermath of Violence: Andean Stones and the Heroics of Small Construction Details
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
4:30 PM
Stella Nair, UCLA
McCormick Hall 106, Princeton University
Located in the wind swept plains of the high Andean desert, the architectural remains of Tiahuanaco have captivated visitors for centuries. The Incas are reported to have been so impressed by Tiahuanaco masonry that they used it as a model for their state buildings, such as the impressive granite structures at the royal estate of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, intentional destruction of Tiahuanaco followed by centuries of neglect and decades of problematic reconstructions have hampered our ability to study Tiahuanaco design and construction. The result is that no extant buildings survive. Instead, scattered andesite and sandstone blocks mark the once prestigious urban center. In this talk, Nair will examine how small construction details on these exquisitely carved stone fragments can provide critical clues into understanding Tiahuanaco architecture and its relationship to that of the Inca. In doing so, Nair demonstrates not only how conservators can use these details to understand building heritage, but also highlights the vital need for constraint in building conservation practices, as these small but critical construction details are not only easily overlooked, but also easily destroyed during reconstruction efforts.


Securitas: Embodied Concept
Thursday, 26 March 2020
4:30 PM
Michèle Lowrie, University of Chicago
, Princeton University
Sponsored by: Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council


A daemon within? Plotinus and Iamblichus on our allotted guardian spirit
Thursday, 26 March 2020
4:30 PM
Wiebke-Marie Stock, Notre Dame
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
The thesis of this talk is that the notion of the allotted guardian spirit is used to explain actions, thoughts or feelings that stem from an unconscious part of the mind. Ancient philosophers attribute to an external force those thoughts or impulses that could not be located in the conscious mind. This is of course not a problem of location but an inquiry into the autonomy and functioning of the mind. The notion of the daimôn is used to discuss psychological questions of cognitive activity either “below” or “above” the level of consciousness. This philosophical practice raises the questions of, on the one hand, the unity of the mind – in what sense do these levels belong to “us” as conscious beings –, and, on the other hand, of the ethical subject – in what sense are “we” – or which part of “us” is – responsible for our actions, thoughts and feelings.


The Compressed Image and the Modern History of Greek Art
Thursday, 26 March 2020
6:00 PM
Milette Gaifman, Yale University
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Today, when we speak of a compressed image, we typically mean a digital image whose size has been reduced by deleting or grouping together some of the initial file’s components. The lecture shows how various types of reproduction used from the eighteenth century to the present had a similar effect of compressing ancient Greek images; engravings, lithographs and plaster casts of Greek painted vases and relief sculpture have removed or merged together some of the originals’ traits. More profoundly, modern replications have compressed our understanding of ancient Greek images, so we have lost grasp of fundamental subtleties and nuances. We may undo the processes of image compression by examining the impact of the technologies we use for documenting artworks. Free and open to the public. Reception to follow at 7:30pm in Jaffe 113.


Re-Rolling the Past: Representations and Reinterpretations of Antiquity in Analog and Digital Games
Friday, 27 March 2020
9:00 AM
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
Conference organized by Gabriel Mckee (ISAW) and Daniela Wolin (ISAW) Note: Registration for this event opens on Thursday, February 13th. Analog and digital games (e.g., video, role play, board, card, pedagogical, and alternative games) are platforms for modeling and experiencing events in fantastic, modern, or historical settings. When devising games based on ancient, historical, and archaeological contexts, an informed and critical approach is essential, lest games perpetuate problematic narratives or provide inaccurate representations of the past. "Rerolling the Past" builds off of the recent increase in academic studies of games to show how games can serve as a fruitful avenue for communicating information about the ancient world. This conference will bring together historians, archaeologists, scholars of gaming, and game designers to discuss three intersecting themes: archaeology in/of games; pedagogy and games; and critical approaches to game design. We hope to acknowledge and address common issues and challenges that cut across disciplinary divides and envisage how increased collaborative initiatives can be developed in the future. For schedule, go to: https://isaw.nyu.edu/events/re-rolling-the-past Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp


Hermogenes and Hellenistic - Roman Temple Building in Greece and Asia Minor: Messon (Lesbos) - Teos - Magnesia - Sardis
Saturday, 28 March 2020
9:00 AM
Penn Museum Classroom L2, University of Pennsylvania


Stories on Walls: The Heyday of Sogdian Narrative Monumental Art
Monday, 30 March 2020
6:00 PM
Pavel Lurje, State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
Lecture 2 in a four-part series — The Sogdians, an eastern Iranian people who lived in the central part of modern Uzbekistan and neighboring areas of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the Late Antique and early Medieval periods (4th to 10th centuries CE), produced a culture that made a deep impact on the history of Eurasia. In the last decades, the study of the Sogdians has developed greatly in many countries, and the recent launch of a Sogdian digital exhibition at the Freer|Sackler Gallery marks a new phase of interest in the Sogdians. Archaeological remains and excavated documents tell us the multifaceted story of a society of landlords, merchants, craftsmen, and brave knights—and also of women and their rights and opinions. This is also a story that lacks imperial ambition, but shows religious pluralism in vibrant cities and the life in diasporas, most famously documented in the inclusion of Sogdian merchants in Chinese society, thus contradicting the common opinion of xenophobia of the Celestial Empire. The Sogdians produced outstanding work of visual art, combining intricate ornamental decorations with the rich narrative of epics, tales, and fables.