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The North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean: Using ivory to reveal long-distance trade networks in the early medieval period

The project here will investigate the ivory trade from a truly long-distance perspective, following the trajectory of ivory tusks from around the Indian Ocean to objects in graves around the North Sea in the 5th-8th centuries CE. The ivory tusk will be followed from its raw form and its export out of the Indian ocean, to its resting place as bag rings in graves around the North Sea. The stages between this will also be considered, including the processing of tusks into workable pieces of ivory, its movement around the Mediterranean and the spectacular objects the tusk is transformed into. The project will use other goods that likely followed the same trade routes to help inform where and how ivory moved across the late antique world. These goods include amethysts, red garnets and cowrie shells. The novel blend of theoretical and methodological approaches the project will employ will piece together an extremely complete picture of the trajectory of ivory in a time of great change across the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

PI: Rowan English