The Silk Road Instrument Database features digitized works of art depicting musical instruments, particularly lutes. First appearing in the Near East in the 3rd millennium BCE, lutes spread broadly throughout the ancient world. The Silk Road, a series of trade routes stretching from Rome to China, was one of the key conduits for the transmission of lutes, beginning in the 1st or 2nd century CE. The database is being developed by Ingrid Furniss, Assistant Professor of Art History and Digital Scholarship Services, and consists of more than 3,000 images. Image collection and cataloging are well underway, the results of which will serve as the basis for a research-based website looking at the evolution of lutes in the Near East and Central Asia and the transmission of these instruments to China.
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