5. All Roads Lead to the East? Interpreting Roman Objects Discovered along the Easternmost Sections of the Silk Road(s)
Krisztina Kinga Hoppál [+]
Eötvös Loránd University Budapest
In Antiquity, Silk Road(s) were central to interactions between East and West linking the Classical world and Asia through the chain of intertwined networks of communities, in which information, ideas, cultural elements, and artifacts were transferred across land and sea. Although studying these early exchange networks can be considered a relatively popular field of research, the intensity and patterns of such complex system still leave a lot of questions, particularly in case of interactions between the Roman Empire and East and Southeast Asia. A variety of artefacts can be interpreted as indicators of links between these remote regions, but the different levels and nature of these connections has been less recognized. Many of the Roman objects from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or China are either lacking archaeologically secure context or were unearthed as results of different archaeological agendas and excavation focus applied in these different regions. Such unevenness of information requires meticulous (re)-interpretation and systematic categorization of Roman artefacts in order to envisage the heterogeneous ways and degrees of interactions they signify. This presentation illustrates different categories of Roman objects such as exquisite genuine objects, less distinctive mass products, and modern time arrived antiquities discovered along the easternmost sections of the Silk Road(s), and highlights their diverse roles in networks of Silk Road(s) communities.