Art & Architecture

Tales Things Tell: Material Histories of Early Globalisms

New perspectives on early globalisms from objects and images


Nov 21, 2023
7.75 x 10.5 in.
190 color + 22 b/w illus. 6 maps.
Art & Architecture
Buy This

Tales Things Tell offers new perspectives on histories of connectivity between Africa, Asia, and Europe in the period before the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century. Reflected in objects and materials whose circulation and reception defined aesthetic, economic, and technological networks that existed outside established political and sectarian boundaries, many of these histories are not documented in the written sources on which historians usually rely. Tales Things Tell charts bold new directions in art history, making a compelling case for the archival value of mobile artifacts and images in reconstructing the past.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Finbarr Barry Flood and Beate Fricke present six illuminating case studies from the sixth to the thirteenth centuries to show how portable objects mediated the mobility of concepts, iconographies, and techniques. The case studies range from metalwork to stone reliefs, manuscript paintings, and objects using natural materials such as coconut and rock crystal. Whether as booty, commodities, gifts, or souvenirs, many of the objects discussed in Tales Things Tell functioned as sources of aesthetic, iconographic, or technical knowledge in the lands in which they came to rest. Remapping the histories of exchange between medieval Islam and Christendom, from Europe to the Indian Ocean, Tales Things Tell ventures beyond standard narratives drawn from written archival records to demonstrate the value of objects and images as documents of early globalisms.