Institute of Archaeology


Islamic Archaeology Research Network

Islamic archaeology is at a critical point. Few fields have undergone such dramatic changes in the last three decades. A surge in research and rescue excavations of medieval sites across the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and central Asia and beyond has quite literally revolutionized our understanding of Islamic material culture. New ceramic typologies and careful stratigraphic excavation combined with strategic radiocarbon dating have provided new information on the invisible seventh and eighth centuries and overturned traditional catastrophist narratives of the Muslim conquests. Combined with a shift towards problem-based fieldwork, innovative scientific analysis and the exploration of regions outside the Islamic heartlands of Syria, Palestine and Iraq, our understanding of subjects as diverse as Islamic urbanism or new glass-making technologies has grown exponentially in the past decade.

The Institute of Archaeology is ideally placed to take the lead in setting new agendas and research directions in this area. There is now a critical mass of staff and students at the Institute conducting research in disparate parts of the Islamic world (Middle East, North Africa, Southern Europe, Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, sub-Saharan Africa). Researchers are at the forefront of innovative approaches to topics ranging from urbanism and state formation to glass-making and the steel-making industry and are active in fieldwork across the region.

This Research Network aims to encourage collaboration, promote research and generate new agendas amongst researchers working on the Islamic world at the Institute and beyond.

The research network has the following aims:

  • To establish the Institute of Archaeology and London as a leading centre of Islamic archaeology in the UK
  • To provide an umbrella under which to group and publicise existing Institute of Archaeology research, workshops and events on the Islamic world
  • To run (in collaboration with colleagues at SOAS) an annual Islamic Archaeology Day as well as other thematic research-driven events
  • To attract research students and postdoctoral researchers to the Institute of Archaeology in this field

The intentionally broad remit of this network is counterbalanced by a focus on three core research themes for 2016-2019:

  • Conceptualising Islamic states, Muslim sovereignty and rulership
  • Comparative approaches to Islamic urbanism in different parts of the Islamic world with particular emphasis on the changing use of space.
  • Technology, craft & making