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Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 4:30pm
Morrill Hall, Room 404
Cornell University Dept, 159 Central Avenue, Morrill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
Talk by Dr. Natali Pearson
In 1998, the Belitung, a ninth-century western Indian Ocean–style vessel, was discovered in Indonesian waters. Onboard was a full cargo load, likely intended for the Middle Eastern market, of over 60,000 Chinese Tang dynasty (619–907) ceramics, gold, and other precious objects. It is one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of recent times, revealing the global scale of ancient commercial endeavors and the importance of the ocean to these trading networks. But this shipwreck also has a modern tale to tell, of how nation-states appropriate the remnants of the past for their own purposes, and of the international debates about who owns—and is responsible for—shared heritage. In this seminar, I focus on the Belitung’s connections to the Muslim world—as suggested by its origins, as evidenced by its extraordinary cargo, and as implied in its display—and reflect on the knowledge this wreck has brought to the surface.
** Co-sponsored with the Southeast Asia Program