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Betty Hensellek, PhD

Art & Design Historian of



Iran &

the Steppe

Fashioning Central Eurasia (400-900 CE)
a book project about the kaftan & cosmopolitanism
Eurasian Silver
an online catalog tracing the provenance of 3rd- to 13th-century silver vessels
A Sogdian Drinking Game at Panjikent
reconstructing the playful aspects of Sogdian banquets
Balalyk Tepe, Hephthalites, & a Sartorial System
exploring how banqueters celebrated in ancient Uzbekistan
The Many Lives of the Silver Saiga Rhyton in The Met
uncovering the unexpected modern lives of a Central Asian rhyton
A Biography of the Khoniakiv Silver Hoard
tracing the modern lives of four vessels discovered in present-day Ukraine
Banqueting, Dress, and the Idealized Sogdian Merchant
piecing together how elite merchants fashioned their identity through dress
Alanic Archaeological Materials at The Met
cataloging, analyzing, & interpreting a unique collection from Northern Caucasus
Dressing the Hero in the Sogdian Pictorial Epic
investigating an epic hero's iconic leopard-spotted costume
standing under the first and largest Sasanian rock relief near Firuzabad, Iran, August 2016

I’m Betty & I’m an art & design historian of Central Asia, Iran, & the Steppe. My current research revolves around premodern design systems that facilitated cross-cultural communication & the modern lives of ancient objects. My dissertation-turned-first book project, Fashioning Central Eurasia, explores how dress & fashion shaped social interactions & intertwined communities stretching from the Caucasus Mountains to the Tarim Basin in the age of the Great Silk Roads. My second major project, Eurasian Silver, is an online catalog for 3rd- to 13th-century CE silver vessels discovered in hoards across the vast Eurasian continent.

Education & Research Institutions

I received my PhD from the Department of the History of Art at Cornell University in 2020 for a doctoral dissertation entitled, “The Age of the Polychrome Kaftan: Sartorial Systems of Central Eurasia (400-900 CE).” I received an MA with distinction from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2013), & a BA in Art History & a BFA in Fine Arts from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, & Planning, University of Cincinnati (2011).

From September 2017 through August 2019, I was the Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Fellow in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before arriving at The Met, I began working on my dissertation in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Institute for the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences & worked with the collections at the State Hermitage Museum (2016-17). In 2014-2015 I was a DAAD Visiting PhD Student at the Seminar für Orientalische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.


Feel free to send me an email and say hi! I am happy to share my articles or converse about the Sogdians, ancient fashion, & silver vessels. Please be patient though, I am a designer by day & often it takes some time to reply to emails.