Silk Across the Sands
A rare exhibit of artifacts from Uzbekistan at the Arthur Ross Gallery


Photography by
Candace diCarlo

offers a tantalizing glimpse of the cultures along the Silk Road. So did a symposium at the University Museum. By Samuel Hughes


It stretched nearly 5,000 miles
across some of the most inhospitable deserts and steppes of Asia. Yet in many areas it was not really a road at all but a series of desert oases, which served as stepping stones and way stations for the ancient traders of Assyria and Bactria and other forgotten civilizations. Along it, caravans of camels bore the riches of the East—first lapis lazuli and tin, then porcelain and, of course, silk—and in the process helped cross-pollinate emerging cultures. But while the route’s origins go back more than 4,000 years to the Bronze Age, it was only in 1877, long after its heyday, that German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen—the Red Baron’s uncle—gave it the "Silk Road" moniker. The name stuck, and resonates still.
    Some exotic remnants of that route can be seen in these pages and in "Treasures of Uzbekistan: The Great Silk Road," a rare exhibition of artifacts that opened at the Arthur Ross Gallery in November and runs through Feb. 13. The exhibition is the product of a frenetic year’s assemblage by Dr. Fredrik Hiebert —the Robert H. Dyson Assistant Curator of the University Museum’s Near East Section and assistant professor of archaeology—and by Dr. Dilys Winegrad, director and curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery. (For more on that, see page 27.) In the view of Hiebert, who was given a special decree from the president of Uzbekistan to borrow from every museum and institute in that nation, the exhibition represents "our first step in building a cultural bridge between Uzbekistan and the United States."

Detail from The "Ambassadors" fresco
(reproduction of original in the Afrasiab Museum),
Samarkand, ca. 1970; man's shoes, Bukhara, ca. 1890.

previous page | next page

Treasures on View: The Genesis of an Exhibition
By Dilys Pegler Winegrad

January/February Contents | Gazette Home

Copyright 2000 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 12/23/99