Events in UCIS

Thursday, October 25 until Wednesday, May 1

8:30 am Exhibit
Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present
Ground and Second Floors, Hillman Library
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Year of PittGlobal and Hillman Library
See Details

Free and Open to the Public during Hillman Library Hours

The term Silk Road, coined by 19th century German explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen, refers to a loose network of overland trade routes stretching from the Mediterranean to East Asia. Textiles, gems, spices, animals and even religions were all exchanged along this vast expanse, starting around 1,000 B.C. and continuing for millennia. For much of this time, most Silk Road traders coming from western Eurasia were Muslim, and they brought their beliefs and rich culture to millions of people.

A Crossroads of Ideas

While the Silk Road was a two-way route, most of its movement was eastward, carrying Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and later, Islam.

By the 8th century, Muslims stopped thinking of religion geographically and began seeking converts along the Silk Road. The benefits of conversion to such a widespread religion were many, as Muslims preferred trading with other Muslims.

Islamic scientific and medical advancements also had significant impact on Silk Road travelers. Chinese Buddhist traders adopted Islamic medical knowledge in wound healing and urinalysis. Muslims brought India their insights on astronomy, including a skepticism of the geocentric universe.

Cultural Exchange Along the Route

Influences from Buddhist China and other regions also affected radical changes in Islam. In the 12th century, abstract Islamic art suddenly started depicting human figures, long considered forbidden in Islam. Murals showing Buddhist statues and Indian narrative artwork started appearing in mosques, and Islamic art exploded with new techniques and figures. Chinese technologies, such as paper production and gunpowder, were transmitted to the West. Iran’s art in the Mongol period (13th and 14th centuries) is dramatically influenced by Chinese artistic traditions.

The Exhibit Design

The ground floor cases in Hillman Library feature a map of the Silk Road from its Eastern terminus in the Chinese city of Xian to its western terminus in Constantinople. They also display the late-14th century Catalan Atlas, the most detailed world map of its time, showing key places along and major figures who traveled the overland route of the Silk Road. The exhibit continues on the second floor of Hillman Library in five thematic display cases:

*Horses and Dynasties: Cartography and Painting in China, 10th-14th Centuries,
*Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo: Confluences of Power and Exchange in Assia,
*Musical Encounters in the Deserts and Mountains of Central Asia,
*Explorations in Turkestan: Aurel Stein and Bamiyan, and
*New World Exploitation and the China Trade with Europe.

Thursday, December 6

6:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Dave Eggers featured author in second of Four Evenings of Conversation
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Center for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies (CERIS), University Library System (ULS) and Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures
See Details

Book Discussion led by Will Picard, Founder and Executive Director, Yemen Peace Project

The University of Pittsburgh’s Global Studies Center is partnering with Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures’ Ten Evenings lecture series to host book discussions of the recent works of Ten Evenings authors prior to their public lectures at the Carnegie Music Hall. These discussions, led by local faculty, will focus on how authors’ works of fiction and non-fiction help us to understand global processes and the connections, disruptions, inequalities, and opportunities they create.

A limited number of FREE tickets to the lecture available to those who attend the book discussion. Register here:

We also have a limited number of "The Monk of Mocha" to give out to participants in our discussion. Contact Maja Konitzer at directly.

December 10 | 7:30pm | Carnegie Lecture Hall
Lecture by Dave Eggers & Mokhtar Alkhanshali
To purchase ticket from Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures:

7:00 pm Performance
Performer of the Year Juli Wood
Nordy's Place
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center along with Department of Music, Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs
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Saxophonist Juli Wood, who is a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene and has appeared onstage at Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival and Storyville club in Helsinki, infuses traditional Finnish folk tunes with her unique jazzy style.
The granddaughter of Finnish immigrants, Juli tapped into her heritage for her CD Synkkä Metsä (Dark Forest), which one reviewer called, “An outstanding set with a compellingly beautiful cohesion.”
Juli studied jazz at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and has been mentored by noted jazz artists. In addition to performing on sax, she is a vocalist and composer.
Come and enjoy the jazz stylings of Juli, described by various reviewers as a “feisty saxist,” “a gutsy tenor and baritone saxophonist,” and one who “sings with great heart.”