‘Sericulture and raw silk supply in the East Roman Empire, c. 552-755’
In addition to writing my degree’s two required research papers, I spent my year in Oxford taking two papers in Syriac language and literature with David Taylor, as well as taking coursework in classical Armenian and early Armenian literature, late antique and Byzantine architecture and archaeology, and late antique history and religion.
My first paper, on Cyril of Alexandria, developed out of my earlier interests in ecclesiastical politics influenced by much illuminating time spent with Neil McLynn. My second paper, on the late Roman/early Byzantine silk trade – written under the expert guidance of James Howard-Johnston – resulted in a broadening of my horizons towards central and east Asia, and a growing interest in trans-Asian trade, technological exchange, and cultural contact.
In September 2014 I entered the Ph.D. programme in History at Princeton University; in the coming two years while I prepare for my general exams I hope to return to the topic of the Byzantine silk trade as well as to my other interests in frontier studies, ecclesiastical politics and religious conflict, identity and integration, and the 5th century east Roman Leonid dynasty.
I returned to Oxford in January 2015 for a conference on Syriac intellectual culture in late antiquity, sponsored and hosted by the Ertegun Programme, co-organized with fellow scholar Jeremiah Coogan.