Evening lecture

Matthew Canepa: The Late Antique Kosmos: Textiles and the Transformation of Late Antique Visual and Political Cultures of Power

Late antiquity (ca. 3rd - 7th century CE) oversaw the growth of an increasingly interconnected world. Empires, including those of Rome and Sasanian Iran, defined themselves in a self-consciously global fashion and strove with one another to dominate all species of symbolic as well as economic capital that flowed through them. While the amount of extant evidence from this period is not great, it is clear that textiles-especially silk textiles-played an important role in transforming the visual and political cultures of this vibrant period of Eurasian exchange. This lecture will explore how the visual, material and practical affordances of textiles forged connections between empires and how this 'hylonoetic fabric' formed a link between the visual and political cultures of the late antique world.


Matthew P. Canepa is associate professor of art history and classical and near Eastern studies at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia and the wider Iranian world. Prof. Canepa's first book "The Two Eyes of the Earth" (University of California Press) analyzes the interactions between the late Roman and Sasanian empires and was awarded the 2010 James Henry Breasted Prize from the American Historical Association. "Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction" (Smithsonian, 2010) studies the phenomena of cross-cultural interaction between the ancient to early medieval Mediterranean, Western Asia and China. Prof. Canepa is currently finishing a book exploring the transformation of Iranian cosmologies, landscapes and architecture and is serving as an area advisor/editor for the planned Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity.


This lecture is part of a lecture series organized by the international research project Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.).


In cooperation with

28 May 2015, 6:00pm

Museum für Islamische Kunst

Am Kupfergraben 5
10117 Berlin


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