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All events are free and open to the public


Fall Term 2017


Friday, October 20, 2017, 2pm
Blown across the Sea: Glass along the Maritime Silk Road
Sanjyot Mehendale, Chair, Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, UC Berkeley
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall

Blown across the Sea:  Glass along the Maritime Silk Road image


This lecture will highlight the results of underwater surveys of a 2000-year-old shipwreck uncovered off the coast of the small fishing village of Godavaya, Sri Lanka. The ship's cargo of glass ingots, among other objects, will be the starting point of a discussion on the movement of glass raw materials and finished objects along the intertwined maritime and overland trading networks commonly referred to as the Silk Road. In particular, the talk will focus on the implications of this evidence for archaeological analysis of early patterns of globalization.

Sanjyot Mehendale is Chair of the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, at UC Berkeley. An archaeologist specializing in cross-cultural connections of early Common Era Eurasia, she teaches on Central Asia in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Event Contact: tangsilkroadcenter@berkeley.edu, 510.642.0333



Friday, November 3, 2017, 5pm
2017 Annual Tang Lecture in Silk Road Studies
The Mongols and the Changing Patterns of Indian Ocean Connections
Tansen Sen, Professor, NYU Shanghai
Toll Room, Alumni House

Co-sponsored by the Mongolia Initiative

Annual Tang Lecture in Silk Road Studies image



In the thirteenth century, the expansion of Mongol forces under Genghis Khan and his descendants resulted in the formation of a vast Eurasian empire stretching from the Korean peninsula to central Europe. Despite the eventual fragmentation of this Mongol empire into four contending khanates, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries witnessed unprecedented interactions between polities and societies across the Eurasian realm. Past studies highlighting these exchanges have primarily focused on the overland connections. This paper will demonstrate that the formation of the Mongol empire also had a significant impact on the Indian Ocean world. It will argue that new patterns of maritime exchanges emerged as a consequence of the connections between the Yuan empire in China, South Asia, and the Ilkhanate in Iran. These new patterns are discernible with regard to the use of naval power, diplomacy, commercial linkages, and cultural diffusion. The Ming voyages lead by the eunuch admiral Zheng He in the early fifteenth century and even the initial Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean, the paper will contend, followed some of the key patterns of maritime exchanges that developed during the Mongol period.

Tansen Sen is Director of the Center for Global Asia, Professor of History, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Professor, NYU. He received his MA from Peking University and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Event Contact: tangsilkroadcenter@berkeley.edu, 510.642.0333



Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5pm
Trans-Regionalism and Economic Co-Dependency across the South China Sea
Derek Thiam Soon Heng, Northern Arizona University
180 Doe Memorial Library

South China Sea event image



Throughout history, the South China Sea has been a maritime zone that saw primary economies of its littoral zones exercise influence over smaller, outlying economies by binding the latter into co-dependent relationships with the former. This may be witnessed in such areas as the currency systems adopted by the smaller economies, alignment of foreign and trade policies with those of the larger economies, and in the ways in which the trade of products from one economy to another was developed from being uni-directional and non-crucial, to being one where the economies became mutually dependent. This trans-regional economic phenomenon may be witnessed between China and the Malay Region during the tenth to fourteenth centuries. This paper seeks to explore the multi-facetted nature of the economic interaction between these two regional economies, and how a vertically integrated economic zone developed across the South China Sea over the course of the early second millennium AD between these two economic regions.

Derek Heng is Professor and Chair of History at Northern Arizona University. He specializes in the pre-modern trans-regional history of Maritime Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, utilising textual and archaeological data to study the interactions between Southeast Asia and China, and their impact on the state formation process in coastal Southeast Asia.