Bonn (Part Two) - University of Bonn and the Annemarie Schimmel Mamluk Kolleg

The other main reason for my visit to Bonn (see part one) was to visit the Annemarie Schimmel Mamluk Kolleg at the University of Bonn and see its affiliated archeology lab. The laboratory, in which my friend Greg has been working, was started this past winter and will be inaugurated in November. A first of its kind in Germany, the archeology lab hosts its own library and an extensive collection of ceramics, metals, glass shards, and stone fragments from digs in Jordan. These pieces represent the span of Islamic history from the early period under the Umayyads through the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. To learn more about the Islamic Archeology Research Unit at Bonn, check out their website. Additionally, the unit's director, Prof. Bethany Walker, has started and is the editor of the first academic journal devoted solely to Islamic archeology: Journal of Islamic Archeology. Prof. Walker's own research uses archeological evidence to understand demographic, agricultural, and environmental patterns of life in Jordan during the Mamluk period. Having the opportunity to meet with her and discuss some upcoming opportunities for collaboration and for me to visit the Kolleg was excellent. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where some of these projects may lead, and you can expect a full report here once they come to fruition.

In addition to meeting with Prof. Walker and visiting the laboratory with Greg, I was also fortunate to attend a lecture by Prof. Yossef Rapoport at Bonn's Mamluk Kolleg (which was itself an exciting place to visit and has a great library on the Mamluk period). Prof. Rapoport is in the history department at Queen Mary University of London and has written extensively on various topics related to medieval Islamic Egypt. In the talk he gave at the Kolleg, he discussed various agricultural patterns in Ayyubid Fayoum on the basis of al-Nabulsi's "History of the Fayoum" (تاريخ الفيوم). Many of these were very relevant to issues I dealt with in my MA thesis, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to talk with Prof. Rapoport personally after the lecture. I was even more thrilled to find out that he had downloaded my thesis and planned to read it soon. 

Overall, my Bonn trip was both very enjoyable and extremely productive. I was really happy to be able to enjoy the city with Greg, while also getting to see the facilities of Bonn's Islamic Studies department and meet with some of its members. Greg is, himself, doing great work towards understanding the role of Aswan on the frontier during the early and medieval Islamic periods by studying ceramic evidence from a number of excavations in which he's participated. Here you can see a poster from a recent presentation he did at Bamberg University. I'm hoping to have Greg do a guest post from Aswan this fall while he's there excavating. So check back for that!

 The main, historic building of Bonn University - former resident of the elector-prince. The full facade is even more impressive, but one wing was under restoration. 

The main, historic building of Bonn University - former resident of the elector-prince. The full facade is even more impressive, but one wing was under restoration. 

 The library of the Islamic Archeology Lab. An impressive, and still-growing collection. 

The library of the Islamic Archeology Lab. An impressive, and still-growing collection. 

 Some of the display cases in the library. This is not even a small portion of the ceramics at the lab.

Some of the display cases in the library. This is not even a small portion of the ceramics at the lab.

 Beautiful, old storage case housing ceramics from a cross-section of periods - from the Neolithic to the Ottoman periods.

Beautiful, old storage case housing ceramics from a cross-section of periods - from the Neolithic to the Ottoman periods.


Finally, for those who are interested, here is a flyer for an upcoming workshop that the lab will be hosting in October.