Bethany Walker
© Bethany J. Walker

Prof. Dr. Bethany J. Walker

University of Bonn
Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA)
Department of Islamic Studies
Research Unit in Islamic Archaeology
Brühler Str. 7
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 62946

Current Position

  • Research Professor and Co-Director at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Mamluk Studies
  • Director of Research Unit in Islamic Archaeology
  • Professor for Middle Eastern History


The agency of dependent social groups to negotiate advantages, carve out niches of autonomy and make decisions on a local level that had the potential to impact imperial regimes is at the heart of Bethany Walker’s research. The political focus is the Mamluk Sultanate, a Muslim state founded and maintained by a political elite of manumitted military slaves in Egypt and Syria in the 13th through early 16th centuries. In a system where a particular form of slavery, which has deep roots in the medieval Islamic world, created a ruling elite, peasants, the poor, foreigners, religious minorities and women could redefine their social class to their benefit by molding economic institutions and imperial policies and forming alternative socio-political networks.

1 book, 3 edited volumes, 70 articles, 15 reviews, and more than 60 invited talks, lectures, and presentations; 1 finished and 11 ongoing doctorate supervisions, 2 as external reviewer, numerous B.A. and M.A. theses supervision


  • 1992–1998             Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, Canada
  • 1989–1992             M.A. at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  • 1985–1989             B.A. at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA

Academic Positions

  • 2013–present         Professor for Middle Eastern History, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2008–2013             Professor and Full Professor for Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Missouri State University, USA
  • 2004–2008             Assistant and Associate Professor for Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Grand Valley State University, USA
  • 1999–2004             Visiting Assistant Professor/Assistant Professor for Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Oklahoma State University, USA

Participation in Centers and Collaborative Projects

  • 2015–present          Member of the editorial board, "Comparative Islamic Studies"
  • 2014–present          Senior editor, "Journal of Islamic Archaeology"
  • 2013–present          Member of the editorial board, "Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research"
  • 2007–present          Member of the editorial board, "Bulletin d’ Études Orientales"
  • 2005–2008               Research participant in the Norwegian project "Global Moments in the Levant: Towards an Understanding of a Contact Zone between Peoples, Cultures, and States",
                                        sponsored by the University of Bergen and funded by the Norwegian Research Council (for $2.6 million)
  • 2005–2007               Board of Directors, Middle East Medievalists
  • 2004–present          Member of the editorial board, "Mamluk Studies Review", University of Chicago, USA
  • 2004–2012              Member of editorial board "Near Eastern Archaeology"

Archaeological Project Affiliations

  • 2014–present         Co-Director – Khirbet Beit Mazmil Archaeological and Development Project, Jerusalem
  • 2003–present         Senior Director – Northern Jordan Project
  • 2001–2003             Ceramics consultant (medieval and post-medieval) – University of Warsaw – Polis-Pyrgos Archaeological Project, Cyprus
  • 1998–present         Director of Excavations – Excavations at Tall Hisban, Madaba Plains Project, Jordan
  • 1995, 2008              Ceramics consultant (medieval and post-medieval) – Vasilikos Valley Project, Cyprus – directed by Ian Todd and Alison South
  • 1994–1997             Ceramics specialist - Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (Toronto, ON) - excavations of medieval Zaraka, Stymphalos, Greece

Third-Party Funding

  • Member of advisory board for an Oklahoma university consortium project entitled "al-Sharaka".
    This project won a $15 million, 3-year USAID grant in November 2003 for rebuilding Iraq’s higher education system.

Selected Publications

  • 2016. “The Northern Jordan Project and the ‘Liquid Landscapes’ of Late Islamic Bilad al-Sham.” In Landscapes of the Islamic World. Archaeology, History, and Ethnography, edited by Stephen McPhillips and Paul D. Wordsworth, 184–199. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

  • 2015. “On Archives and Archaeology. Reassessing Mamluk Rule from Documentary Sources and Jordanian Fieldwork.” In Material Evidence and Narrative Sources. Interdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Middle East, edited by Daniella Talmon-Heller and Katia Cytryn-Silverman, 113–143. Leiden: Brill.

  • 2014. “Byzantine to Modern Ceramics.” In Polis-Pyrgos Archaeological Project. Post-Prehistoric Ceramics and Chalcolithic to Iron Age Ground Stone Artefacts from the Field Survey in Northwestern Cyprus, 1992–1999, edited by Dariusz Maliszewski, 97–37. Warsaw: Creator Publishing House.

  • 2014. “Exercising Power on the Mamluk Frontier. The Phenomenon of the Small Rural Citadel, Case of Tall Hisban.” In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, 30 April-4 May 2012, University of Warsaw. Vol. 3, edited by Piotr Bielínski, Michał Gawlikowski, Rafał Kolínski, Dotora Ławecka, Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, and Zuzunna Wygnańska, 395–408. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • 2014. “Mobility and Migration in Mamluk Syria. The Dynamism of Villagers ‘on the Move’.” In Everything is on the Move. The Mamluk Empire as a Node in (Trans-) Regional Networks, edited by Stephan Conermann, 325–348. Göttingen: V&R unipress.

  • 2014. “Planned Villages and Rural Resilience on the Mamluk Frontier. A Preliminary Report on the 2013 Excavation Season at Tall Hisban.” In History and Society during the Mamluk Period (1250–1517), edited by Stephan Conermann, 157–192. Göttingen: V&R unipress.

  • 2013. “Settlement Decline or Internal Migration? ‘Reading’ Anew the History of Late Mamluk Jordan.” Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 11: 93–104.

  • 2013. “What Can Archaeology Contribute to the New Mamlukology? Where Culture Studies and Social Theory Meet.” In Ubi sumus? Quo vademus? Mamluk Studies – State of the Art, edited by Stephan Conermann, 311–335. Göttingen: V&R unipress.

  • 2011. Jordan in the Late Middle Ages. Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier. Chicago Studies on the Middle East 1. Chicago: Middle East Documentation Center.

  • ed. 2009. Reflections of Empire. Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 64. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.

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