Hidden Stories – Books Along the Silk Road

A new exhibit is debuting at the Aga Khan museum from October 9, 2021–February 27, 2022, presented by the work done with the Old Books New Science (OBNS) lab! The exhibit “Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Roads” tells the story of manuscripts and books along the famous trade network spanning from China to Europe. From snapshots of the numerous social dynamics from a plethora of cultures along the route, the exhibit also demonstrates the technology and craftsmanship required for the creation of these cultural artifacts.

The contribution of the Geomechanics group at U of T in providing X-ray MicroCT imaging is key for elucidating the structure of books too fragile to frequently handle by hand. For a test scan, a modern bamboo enclosed palm leaf manuscript can be seen here conducted with the Geomechanics group.

Members of the Geomechanics lab Aly Abdelaziz and Johnson Ha demonstrated the MicroCT scanning procedure for video segments used in the exhibit, demonstrating the imaging capabilities of the Transparent lab at the Geomechanics Group. Similar X-ray MicroCT scanning in the exhibit features a spinal reconstruction of the binding of a manuscript on loan from the Thomas Fisher Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

The combination of skillsets between multi-disciplinary innovative humanist scholarship and cutting-edge computational imaging offered between the OBNS and Geomechanics group highlights the need for likeminded collaborative approaches! Stay tuned for future updates on this developing collaborative project.