Last fall, student Jiyun Kim was writing a blog post assignment for her class, History of Western Art and Civilization: Ancient Prehistory Through the Middle Ages, when she began making discoveries. On trips to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, she became fascinated with stone tablets from Ancient Mesopotamia (550–300 BC) that contained information about early fashion and textile trades. The tablets, written in cuneiform, or wedge-shaped, characters, were essentially invoices for linen that were delivered to a temple; they detailed the way flax could be spun, and provided information about the textile trade with Egypt.
History of Art Assistant Professor Alexander Nagel was so impressed with Kim’s research that he encouraged her to submit an abstract to organizers of the New York University Undergraduate Conference on the Ancient World; the piece was accepted, and she will present “Reading the Textile Industries of Achaemenid Mesopotamia and Persia in New York City” at the conference on February 8. For the presentation, Kim expanded the scope of the project and included objects such as a cylinder seal (used to create wax seals for documents) from the Morgan Library.
Kim will graduate with a degree in Art History and Museum Professions in spring 2020. “This project made me interested in ancient art,” she says. “I’m hoping to work in this field—either in an archive or studying archaeology.”