Lectures on the Silk Road
8 November 2012 - 21 February 2013
The Silk Road was an extraordinary channel for the transmission of culture and discovery, a journey encompassing the marvels of nature and the fabulous cities that were to become part and parcel of our legendary vision of the East, with places like Samarcand and Baghdad, teeming with merchants, warriors and monks led by powerful lords and religious leaders. These lectures aim to flesh out the visual richness of the exhibition with tales, anecdotes and explanations from some of the leading scholars, writers, journalists, scientists, travellers and experts on the subject, who will be illustrating scientific discoveries, exploring daily life and retelling the stories of the remarkable individuals and nations who peopled the route, probing the relevance of the first experiment in globalisation in history to the complexity of our contemporary culture and economy.
8 November, 6.30 pm
The "Great Khan" and Mongol China
Who was Kublai Khan, "the lord of lords" whom Marco Polo so admired? How can a foreign people have achieved the conquest of the whole of China, and with what strategies did the invaders succeed in hanging onto power for almost one hundred years? Were they really as tolerant and as cosmopolitan as the Venetian writer suggests? In this lecture we'll be taking a look at China as it was in the days of the Mongol domination, at the political reforms and cultural innovations, the daily life and the beliefs of its multiethnic population.
15 November, 6.30 pm
Italian Merchants and the Treasures of the East: An Early Example of Economic Globalisation
Thanks to the unification of a large part of the Asian continent under the Mongol Empire, Genoese and Venetian merchants were able to travel the silk roads fairly freely between 1250 and 1350. This was a century of intense trade and exchange between East and West, which was to strengthen the two worlds' mutual knowledge, and in which Italy played a pioneering role in establishing a trade network on a global scale.
22 November, 6.30 pm
A White Road Through the Mountains of Heaven
We Europeans are a basically sedentary race yet we've always been possessed by a kind of inbred travel bug. In some hidden corner of our soul we still hark to the call of our nomadic ancestors. Mario Biondi, the author of a series of fantastic travelogues, has been nurturing this ancestral call to travel the globe for the whole of his life, and his infectious tales will take us back to our nomadic ways along the Silk Road.
6 December, 6.30 pm
Maria Ludovica Rosati
"There is so much silk here that it is a wonder": Visions of the East in Medieval Europe
The legend of the East goes back a long way. In the eyes of medieval Europe, mysterious Asia was the lair of monsters but it was also a treasure chest with endless riches, silk being the rarest of them all. Through the words of travellers and eye-witnesses of the time, we'll be learning how the fantastic equation East = Silk came into being, and exploring the role that this precious yarn played in Western imagination.
13 December, 6.30 pm
In the Footsteps of Marco Polo and Beyond, for the Silkworm: Italians in China, in Bukhara and in Japan in the 19th Century
When a serious silkworm epidemic jeopardised the production of silk in Italy, then the world's second largest producer of this luxury commodity, hundreds of businessmen travelled throughout Asia for over thirty years, at great personal risk and cost, in search of healthy worms, so that they could bring their eggs back to Italy and set the industry back on its feet.
20 December, 6.30 pm
Paolo Gasparini e Enrico Balli
Marco Polo 2010-2012: A Genetic Journey Through Ethnic Groups, Tastes, Traditions and Cultures
What's the relationship between genetics and taste? Can we use eating habits to reconstruct a people's history? A scientific expedition travelled the ancient Silk Road to explore the relationship between genetics, food preferences and culinary and enological traditions, covering over 20,000 kilometres in ten different countries and working with a sample of over one thousand inhabitants.
10 january, 6.30 pm
Marco Guglielminotti Trivel
Jingjiao, Religion of Light - Archaeological Traces of Syrian Oriental Christianity in China
Syrian Oriental Christianity, commonly known as Nestorianism, was introduced into China at the time of the Tang dynasty and it spread widely under the Mongol domination of the Yuan. Dipping into his personal experience as an archaeologist in China, Marco Guglielminotti Trivel will be illustrating the material remains of this extraordinary cultural exchange between East and West.
17 january, 6.30 pm
Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit at the Ming Court
A distant and virtually unknown world in which slant-eyed men spoke incomprehensible gibberish, painters was ignorant of perspective and religion didn't countenance a God who governed the universe. That's what China looked like to the late 16th century Jesuit who travelled alone to the far reaches of the Ming Empire. Michela Fontana will be bringing to life this cultivated, broad-minded traveller who, setting aside all fear of what appeared "alien", introduced Western culture and scientific knowledge to the East.
24 january, 6.30 pm
Porcelain and Chocolate: The "Globalisation" of Taste
As "chocolate shops" multiplied alongside coffee shops in 18th century Europe, Chinese porcelain began to flood the European market. Much prized, much imitated and avidly collected, it was certainly used also to drink hot chocolate. Is it appropriate to label it the globalisation of taste, or was it simply a fashion for the wealthy few?
31 january, 6.30 pm
The Silk Road Today - Scientific Research and History
Silvia Cappellozza from the Agricultural Research and Experimentation Council (CRA), Italy's largest agricultural research institute, will be taking her audience on a journey of discovery through experiences and adventures of the past centred around the silkworm. Past and present will intermingle in a thrilling tale combining scientific scholarship with intriguing anecdote.
7 February, 6.30 pm
Silk and Poison. Tales from Central Asia
What secrets are concealed in the Asian steppe, on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea and in the Aral Sea? An authority on the region, Duilio Giammaria will be recounting his long career as a correspondent in central Asia, in search of those places which once formed a magnificent kingdom but which are suffering today from the consequences of overexploitation.
21 February, 6.30 pm
Silk, Ancient Fabric of the Future
It's produced in a sustainable manner, it strengthens other fabrics and it's used in medicine for a whole range of purposes. One of the most elegant materials nature offers us, silk is used by scientists today to produce optic and optoelectronic nanostructured components. Fiorenzo Omenetto will be explaining how we start with the yarn the silkworm produces and end up with fully-fledged marvels of modern technology.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni - Sala Cinema
Admission via steps in via Milano 9a, Rome
ADMISSION FREE WHILE PLACES LAST
Reservations may be made by membership card holders only