Perfumes, Potions, and Purple Dye: The Search for Silk Road Commodities in the Eastern Mediterranean

Andrew J. Koh, Assistant Professor, Department of Classical Studies, Brandeis University


Over the past ten years, the ARCHEM project has sought to understand the nature of organic commodities along the Silk Road by characterizing the original contents of ceramic vessels. Based out of the Museum of Cretan Ethnology Research Centre, ARCHEM researchers have isolated thousands of organic residue samples in the eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Israel, Egypt, Turkey) and identified such notable commodities as purple dye, storax, resinated wine, olive oil, and silphium using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. By identifying the contents of a high volume of exchanged objects, and illuminating their archaeological significance, the project hopes to clarify the important roles these commodities played in the economy and daily life of the Silk Road.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 | 7:30 pm — 9:30 pm
Building 500, Room 106, 488 Escondido Mall

Center for East Asian Studies
The Silkroad Foundation
Stanford Archaeology Center
Classics Department