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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Art and Archaeology of the Silk Road, 500-1000 AD (HIAR10190)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces the diverse cultures and inter-cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road, incorporating visual, archaeological, and textual materials. It explores the interactions of various cultures and how they shaped each other, as well as how they together gave rise to pre-modern global history.
Course description The notion of the Silk Road as a long, undulating conduit was a 19th-century invention, reified by modern surveying and cartography. The historical Silk Road, however, was not one but many routes. It was fragmented things and ideas might come from distant lands, but not always the people who carried them; instead, the Silk Road exchange was mostly relayed by people, who only covered a known route of relatively short distance and to whom the idea of a cross-continental 'Silk Road' would have been inconceivable.

With such particular socio-political contexts in mind, this course invites the students to reconstruct the cross-cultural exchanges along the Silk Road. Together we look at and compare the vast and diverse archaeological, visual, and textual (transmitted and excavated) material, from Japan to Byzantium. What is more, students are encouraged to think about not just the transmission of objects, motifs, techniques, and artistic styles, but how their meanings are rejected, appropriated, transformed, and reinvented, as they are removed to a new context. The methodological challenge is twofold: the materials are alien to us, coming from a different time and space; at the same time, they would have appeared 'exotic' to their ancient audiences. This course, therefore, aims to cultivate critical awareness of how our presumptions of contemporary cross-cultural interactions might shape our understanding of interactions in the past; and that, in return, might challenge how we look at other cultures at present.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a solid foundation knowledge of the diverse visual and material cultures along the Silk Road
  2. Employ advanced skills of visual analysis with a strong ability to make visual comparisons between material from disparate cultures
  3. Interpret Silk Road interactions using a combination of visual, material, and textual evidence
  4. Show a developed and critical awareness of the way Silk Road exchanges have been treated over time in history, art history, and archaeology
  5. Identify, conceptualise and express with confidence novel problems raised by the material
Reading List
Asimov, M and Bosworth, C. (ed.) (1998), History of Civilizations of Central Asia, vols. III, IV (Paris).

Beckwith, C. (2009), Empires of the Silk road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present (Princeton & Oxford).

Hansen, V. (2012), The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford).

Rawson, J. (1984), Chinese Ornament: The Lotus and the Dragon (London).

Skaff, J. (2012), Sui-Tang China and Its Turko-Mongol Neighbors: Culture, Power, and Connection, 580-800 (New York).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning.
KeywordsMedieval,Silk Road,Eurasian Steppes,Central Asia,China,Tibet,Sogdians,Cross-Cultural,Trade,Buddhism
Course organiserDr Jiemin Fang
Tel: (0131 6)51 800
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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