About Me

studying a Sasanian silver plate at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 2018 / wearing a blouse that I embroidered with this plate’s imagery

My name is Betty Hensellek and I am an art historian and archaeologist of Iran, Central Asia, and the Steppe. My research projects investigate cosmopolitanism across Central Eurasia, addressing how and why material culture enabled systems of transcultural communication. My inquiries are grounded in a variety of media ranging from portable vessels to monumental architecture. Stemming from my doctoral dissertation, my first book project, Fashioning Central Eurasia (400-900 CE), explores how dress and fashion shaped social interactions and intertwined communities stretching from the Caucasus Mountains to the Tarim Basin in the age of the Great Silk Roads. My second book project on silver vessels and banqueting will likewise approach this vast region as an interconnected world. My foundational research on silver vessel assemblages led to the creation of this website.

I also have a keen interest in provenance research and the later lives of objects, modern and historical receptions of ancient monuments, and the history of archaeology and collecting under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. On my research website, hensellekresearch.com, I provide summaries of my past and ongoing research projects, as well as a list of current publications with relevant links to full articles or the publisher’s website. If your institution is not subscribed to the e-journal or e-book, send me a quick email.


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).” 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 and 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 KunstgeschichteMartin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.

I received an MA with distinction from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2013), and a BA in Art History and a BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati (2011).