Georgios Boudalis studied Art and Conservation in Florence, Athens, London and Thessaloniki and is currently the head of book and paper conservation at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, Greece. His main interests are the evolution of bookbinding structures and techniques in the Eastern Mediterranean and how these can be studied using a combination of physical, written and iconographical evidence. Between 1999 and 2007 he worked in the Sinai library for the condition survey of the manuscript collection in the context of the St Catherine’s Library Conservation Project. He has also been a visiting scholar and an adjunct professor at Bard Graduate Center in New York where in 2018 he curated the exhibition ‘The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity’ and published a book with the same title.
Aaron Michael Butts
Butts (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is associate professor at the Catholic University of America as well as director of its Institute of Christian Oriental Research. He specializes in the languages, literatures, and history of Christianity in the Near East, in particular Arabic, Ethiopic, and Syriac. He has published over one hundred items, including ten volumes and thirty peer-reviewed journal articles. His current book project, tentatively titled Ezana: The First Christian African King, focuses on the fourth-century Aksumite king Ezana and literary depictions of his conversion to Christianity. This project has been supported by membership at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ) and by an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers. Dr. Butts serves on a number of editorial boards, including Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies and Journal of Semitic Studies, and he is co-editor of the Brill journal Aramaic Studies, as well as its Supplements series.
Crill is a specialist in South Asian textiles and was for 38 years a curator in the Indian (later Asian) Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She retired as Senior Curator in 2016. Her areas of interest include the textiles of India and surrounding countries; the historical international trade in Indian cotton textiles to Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Tibet; local imitations of Indian textiles in Iran, the Middle East and Europe; specific techniques in South Asian textiles, especially ikat, chintz and embroidery. She has published and lectured widely; as well as over 50 journal articles and catalogue essays, her authored books include Indian Ikat Textiles (1998); Indian Embroidery (1999); Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West (2008); Textiles from India: The Global Trade (editor and contributor, 2005) and The Fabric of India (editor and primary author, 2015) which accompanied a major exhibition at the V&A of which she was co-curator.
Derillo is the Curator of Ethiopic and Ethiopian Collections at the British Library. He curated the British Library’s exhibition “African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia” (2018) and co-curated the highly acclaimed exhibition Harry Potter: History of Magic (2017), the first exhibition to be held at the Library devoted entirely to Ethiopian manuscripts. Eyob’s doctoral research focuses the nature and historical development of the concept of Ethiopian ‘magic’ and its use within a specifically Christian context. His particular area of expertise focuses includes Ethiopian history 15th-19th century, Ethiopian manuscript illumination and Geez literature, liturgical and hagiographical texts of medieval period. Derillo’s publications include “Exhibiting The Maqdala Manuscripts: African Scribes: Manuscript Culture Of Ethiopia” (2019, African Research & Documentation Special Issue: Archives and Collections for/in Ethiopian Studies, 135) and “Traveling Medicine: Medieval Ethiopian Amulet Scrolls and Practitioners Handbooks” in Toward a global Middle Ages: Encountering the World Through Illuminated Manuscripts (2019).
Jasdip Singh Dhillon
Jasdip Singh Dhillon has been a book and paper conservator at the Oxford Conservation Consortium since 2017. In addition to working at the consortium, he takes a deep interest in the history of South Asian manuscripts and printed books, especially those originating from the Sikh tradition. As part of this, he helps run a charitable organisation called Pothi Seva for the conservation of Sikh religious books and manuscripts. As well as documenting the history of the Sikh codex, he is also especially interested in the history of papermaking and this has led him to study for a PhD at SOAS, University of London.
Gervers is a professor at the University of Toronto specializing in the history of the Middle Ages, Ethiopia and Inner Asia. His interest in ancient and archaeological textiles has led to publications on the origins of cotton in Nubia and Ethiopia; felt and felt-making in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia; aspects of the medieval textile industry in England; Chinese silks from Noin-Ula and the great felt hanging from Pazyryk (Mongolia); and the card-woven silk and cotton hangings of Ethiopia. Study of the luxury textile trade in the Indian Ocean has led him to examine the swatches of textiles used as pastedowns to enhance the inner book-board bindings of Ethiopian manuscripts, many of which he has recorded in the course of decades of field work in the country. These can be viewed on his websites: http://gundagunde.digital.utsc.utoronto.ca/ and http://ethiopia.deeds.utoronto.ca (username & password: student)
Martin J. Heijdra
Heijdra studied sinology and Japanology at Leiden, Beijing and Kyoto before receiving a PhD in Ming history at Princeton, partly published in the Cambridge History of China. From 1988 he was the Chinese bibliographer at the East Asian Library at Princeton, and became its Director in 2015. In those capacities he has published on the history of the East Asian book and non-Western typography. He currently is the book review editor for the journal East Asian Publishing and Society, Treasurer of the Society for Ming Studies, Secretary of the Geiss Hsu Foundation, and member of the advisory board for the Bibliography of Asian Studies.
Hepworth is an independent conservator of Islamic manuscripts and textiles based in Istanbul, Turkey. He trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York and then worked as a manuscript conservator at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, focusing on their collection of Islamic manuscripts. Co-author of Terminology for the Conservation and Description of Islamic Manuscripts and Curriculum Design for Conservators of Islamic Manuscripts, conservation education in the developing world has been central to his work. After returning to the Middle East, he conducted conservation trainings in Turkey, Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Malaysia. More recently he set up and ran for several years the manuscript conservation laboratory in the Rare Books Library of Istanbul University and is now involved in the creation of a conservation program for a new museum of Ottoman textiles planned to be built in Istanbul.
Bryan C. Keene
Keene is an educator and curator dedicated to promoting diversity and equity for the study and display of the visual arts. He teaches at Riverside City College, where he is an advocate for LGBTQIA2+ student success. Previously, he curated or co-organized award-winning exhibitions at the Getty Museum and edited the volume “Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts” (Getty Publications, 2019), which features contributions by twenty-six authors on book arts from Afro-Eurasia, the Americas, and Austronesia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the International Center of Medieval Art and is an adjunct professor of art history and humanities at Pepperdine University. He received a PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art with a dissertation on Italian choir book illumination.
Hrair Hawk Khatcherian
Like many in the Armenian diaspora, Hrair Hawk Khatcherian was born in Lebanon. He has worked as a freelance photojournalist, professional photographer, and commercial pilot. Since the early 1980s, after moving to Canada, he has been involved in diasporic activities related to the Movement of Artsakh. Since his first trip to Armenia in 1992 and a cancer diagnosis the following year, he has been solely dedicated to supporting the preservation and documentation of Armenian cultural heritage, travelling to more than 50 countries photographing manuscripts in difficult-to-access collections and churches. Among the highlights of his travels was his visit to Mount Ararat, sacred to the global Armenian community, which solidified his singular dedication to documenting and sharing Armenian heritage. Khatcherian has published his photographs widely, presented exhibitions, conferences, lectures worldwide, connecting Artsakh, Armenia, and Western Armenia to broad audiences. His recent publications include Armenian Block Printed Fabric and Armenian Ornamental Script (both co-authored with Armen Kurkchyan), Armenia: Heaven on Earth, and photography for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Armenia! Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages.
Sylvie L. Merian
Merian received her PhD in Armenian Studies from Columbia University, writing her dissertation on “The Structure of Armenian Bookbinding and Its Relation to Near Eastern Bookmaking Traditions.” As Curatorial Assistant, she contributed extensively to the Pierpont Morgan Library’s 1994 exhibition, Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts, and was a contributor to the accompanying catalogue. She was also a major contributor to the Manoogian Museum’s 2013 book: A Legacy of Armenian Treasures: Testimony to a People, as well as to the catalogue for the recent exhibition, Armenia! Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She has published and lectured on Armenian codicology, binding, silverwork, and manuscript illumination. She currently works at The Morgan Library & Museum as Reader Services Librarian.
Obrock is Assistant Professor in the Department of Historical Studies and the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on Sanskrit literature and the cultural history of Kashmir. Obrock is currently working on a monograph titled Cultures of History in Medieval Kashmir. Focusing on a particularly Kashmiri genre of Sanskrit texts called rājataraṅgiṇīs (The River of Kings), this project examines the poetics of kingship, power, and politics from the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries. His research situates these works within the context of larger shifts in South and Central Asian medieval history. His research also investigates the relationship between Persianate and Sanskritic literary and religious forms in Pre-Mughal South Asia, and is working on a bilingual edition of Śrīvara’s sixteenth century Sanskrit translation of a Persian romance. Produced under the Sultans of Kashmir, this work presents a poetics of medieval interreligious and intercultural exchange. Dr. Obrock is also interested in the manuscripts, epigraphy, and material culture of Sultanate South Asia.
Ohta completed her doctoral thesis at SOAS, University of London on bindings of the Mamluk period (1250-1516) and is currently Director of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in London. She has lectured and published widely on the bindings and illumination of Mamluk and Ilkhanid manuscripts as well as the contribution of Islamic bookbinding to the look of the European book. Her most recent article is her contribution ‘Looking inside the book: Doublures of the Mamluk period’ in the festschrift for Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom entitled The Making of Islamic Art (2021).
Sardar is Curator at the Aga Khan Museum, having previously worked at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Major exhibitions include Interwoven Globe (2013), focusing on the worldwide textile trade from the 16th-18th century; Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1750 (2015), examining the artistic traditions of the Muslim sultanates of central India; and Epic Tales from Ancient India (2016), looking at narrative traditions and the illustration of texts from South Asia. She has recently published, along with John Seyller and Audrey Truschke, the Mughal-era Persian-language manuscript of the Ramayana in the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Scheper is a book conservator and she heads the conservation workshop at Leiden University Library. Her academic work focuses on the materiality and structure of manuscripts and books from the Islamic world, as the Leiden collections are rich in Oriental materials that make possible this study of the physical features of the artefacts. For her research on the Islamic bookbinding tradition she received a PhD in 2014, which was awarded with a scholarly honour, the De la Court-Prize, by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 2019 she received a Bahari Fellowship in the Persian Arts of the Book which allowed her to study the Bodleian Oriental collections, in Oxford. She is also a guest lecturer at the universities of Leiden and Amsterdam and developed or engaged in courses and workshops in several institutes abroad.
Schmidtke is Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ. Her research interests include Shīʿism (Zaydism and Twelver Shīʿism), intersections of Jewish and Muslim intellectual history, the Arabic Bible, the history of Orientalism and the Science of Judaism, and the history of the book and libraries in the Islamicate world. Her recent publications include Traditional Yemeni Scholarship amidst Political Turmoil and War: Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl b. al-Muṭahhar al-Manṣūr (1915-2016) and His Personal Library (Cordoba 2018), Muslim Perceptions and Receptions of the Bible: Texts and Studies (Atlanta 2019, with Camilla Adang), and Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy (New York 2017, with Khaled El-Rouayheb).
Thelma K. Thomas
Thomas has taught Late Antique, Byzantine, and Eastern Christian art at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University since 2007; from 1988 until 2007 she taught in the Department of Art History and worked as a curator in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan. Her research, long centered on Egypt, has come to focus on Late Antique textiles, dress and representations of dress, historiography and collection history, as well as modern visual interpretations of Late Antique textiles. In addition to the catalogue for her exhibition “Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity” (Institute for the Study of the. Ancient World, NYU, 2016), recent publications consider commercial and other cultural interconnections along the “Silk Road” and early representations of monastic dress from Late Antique Egypt.
Michelle C. Wang
Wang is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Georgetown University. She is a specialist in the Buddhist and silk road art of northwestern China, primarily of the 6th-10th centuries. Her first book “Mandalas in the Making: The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang” (Brill, 2018) examines Buddhist mandalas of the 8th-10th centuries at the Mogao and Yulin Buddhist cave shrines in northwestern China. In addition to her research on mandalas, she has also written about art and ritual, miracle tales of animated statues, the transcultural reception of Buddhist motifs, and text and image. Her recent projects include work on painted silk Buddhist banners, and on Buddhist sculpture and materiality.
The Book and the Silk Roads
Suzanne Conklin Akbari
BSR co-Principal Investigator
Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton
Akbari is professor of medieval studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Her books are on optics and allegory (Seeing Through the Veil) and European views of Islam and the Orient (Idols in the East), and she’s also edited volumes on travel literature, Mediterranean Studies, and somatic histories, plus the Open Access collections How We Write and How We Read. Her most recent book is The Oxford Handbook of Chaucer (2020), co-edited with James Simpson. Akbari is involved with two global medieval studies projects, the “Practices of Commentary” and “The Book and the Silk Roads,” with which she is co-Principal Investigator. She is especially interested in how living and working on Lenapehoking inflects our academic research and the communities we form. Her work in this area includes “The Gift of Shame,” published in postmedieval 11.2 (2020), and a public-facing piece on Indigenous writers and the genre of the essay. A co-editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Akbari co-hosts a literature podcast called The Spouter-Inn.
BSR co-Principal Investigator
University of Toronto Mississauga
Gillespie is Principal of the University of Toronto Mississauga, Vice-President of the University of Toronto, and Professor of English and Medieval Studies. She is a co-Principal Investigator for the Mellon-funded project, The Book and the Silk Roads, based at the University of Toronto. Her research is concerned with medieval and early modern texts and books, the global development of early book technologies, and digital and non-destructive scientific approaches to the study of premodern books. Gillespie is a faculty member in the University of Toronto Mississauga Department of English and Drama and the University of Toronto Department of English, Centre for Medieval Studies, Collaborative Program in Book History and Print Culture and a Fellow of Victoria College and Trinity College at the University of Toronto.
Jessica Lockhart is Head of Research of the Old Books New Science Lab at the University of Toronto, and coordinates the collaborative research of The Book and the Silk Roads project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. She received her PhD in 2017 from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies, and has also worked with William Robins for many years on the SSHRC-funded “Apollonius of Tyre in Italy” project, conducting textual and literary research on the Latin, Old English, and Middle English Apollonius manuscripts and textual recensions.
Moreton is a cultural historian and codicologist whose early scholarship and publications centered on the history of the book in late medieval and early modern Italy (1400-1700). She served as the postdoctoral fellow for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar, ‘Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Premodern Eurasia’ (2016-17), which broadened her interests to include the study of global manuscript culture, the exchange of materials technologies, and book use in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. For two years, she worked at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, helping to further their mission of the preservation of global manuscript heritage. Her research combines interdisciplinary methodologies from history, material book studies, art history and the quantitative sciences. Her work is deeply informed by the materiality of the book, and the intersection between makers, methods and materials. Moreton holds an MA in Italian Renaissance art history, a graduate certificate in book studies and technologies, and a PhD in history.