Cosmopolitanism as Hospitality: Christian Charity and the Archaeology of the Medieval Silk Road in Armenia

The interior of the 14th century caravan inn at Selim, Vayots Dzor, Armenia

Date: Oct 5, 2021 Time: 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Location: Zoom

Kate Franklin explores the materiality of charity in high medieval Armenia.

Kate Franklin | Birkbeck, University of London

How was a caravan inn a metaphor for the medieval self? 
In this paper I will explore the materiality of charity in high medieval (13th-14th century) Armenia, and in particular the space-times made at the intersection of local politics and expansive worldviews, which worked to contain and produce the mobility and exchange now referred to as the medieval Silk Road. The paper will start from the perspective of the medieval caravan inn-- or karavanatun in Armenia-- and consider both the broader landscapes of piety and the everyday practices of hospitality which held together complexly interwoven cultures and identities in the medieval period. Bringing together archaeological as well as historical and epigraphic evidence, the paper will examine how nested metaphors of self, space, society, and cosmos linked religious tradition to trade worlds, as well as knitting together the edges of Christian and Muslim identities in the transformative period of the Mongol conquest. 

This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link. An email with the relevant Zoom information will be sent 1–2 hours ahead of the lecture.


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An East of Byzantium lecture. EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian Art at Tufts University and the Mary Jaharis Center that explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine empire in the late antique and medieval periods.

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