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Cotsen Textile Traces Talk: From Smuggled Silkworms to Silk Empire

Thursday, May 2, 2024, 1-2 p.m. EDT
A fragment from a garment of silk samite with a twill ground. The fragment is patterned with partial floral roundels in gray, gold, and green on a brown ground.

Fragment (detail); Egypt, Antinopolis; 6th-8th century. Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection T-1376. Photo by Bruce M. White Photography.

This talk is inspired by the GW Byzantine Studies Club’s research for the micro exhibition “Silk in Byzantium.” Told through four textiles, as well as images of mosaics and lead seals, the micro exhibition presents the story of how silk came into and influenced the empire. GW senior Jennifer Lowery will take you through each step of this journey, from smuggled silkworms to silk's emergence as the most sought-after commodity by Byzantine elites. 

About Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer Lowery is a fourth-year student at GW pursuing a B.A. in history, specializing in medieval studies. As the lead student researcher for “Silk in Byzantium,” she was tasked with presenting the story of how silk came into Byzantium and evolved into its major economic commodity. 

About GW’s Byzantine Studies Club

President Elle Kleinfeld, Jennifer Lowery (vice president) and Teya Franks (treasurer) founded GW’s Byzantine Studies Club in 2022 to create a campus community for students interested in Byzantine studies. Members of the BSC conducted object research for the micro exhibition “Silk in Byzantium, learning the ins and outs of textile research, label writing and exhibition production throughout the process.

About Micro Exhibitions

Visit the museum’s lower-level galleries to see a rotating selection of artworks from the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection. Inspired by contemporary culture and world events, these micro exhibitions are collaborative projects with GW faculty, students and special guests.

About the Center

The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center is home to one of the world’s most significant textile study collections. Assembled by the late Lloyd Cotsen, it consists of nearly 4,000 fragments of textiles created around the globe and dating from antiquity to the present, as well as some 100 sample books. Scholars, faculty, students and artists are invited to schedule a research visit, and the entire collection is accessible online. The center also presents rotating gallery displays and public programs inspired by the collection. Learn more about the center

How to Participate

This program will take place on Zoom. To participate, please register online, and we will email you a link and instructions for joining. Simply follow that link at the time the program starts (1 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. PDT). When you register, you can also request to receive a reminder email one day before the program with the link included.

Where
Virtual Event

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