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Prof. Dr. Bethany J. Walker

Principal Investigator


Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Research Unit in Islamic Archaeology, Department of Islamic Studies
Brühler Str. 7
53119 Bonn,
Tel.: +49 0228-7362946
E-Mail: bwalker[at]

Current Position: 

Research Professor and Co-Director, Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Mamluk Studies, Director, Research Unit in Islamic Archaeology, Department of Islamic Studies, UoB


1985-1989      Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. B.A. May 1989
1989-1992      University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. M.A. May 1992
1992-1998      University of Toronto. Ph.D. May 1998
1999-2004      Visiting Assistant Professor/Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History, Department of History,
Oklahoma State University
2004-2008      Assistant and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Grand Valley
                       State University
2008-2013      Professor and Full Professor of Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Missouri State
2013-present  Full Professor of Middle Eastern History, UoB

Interdisciplinary, International Research Projects: 

2005-2008: Research participant in 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); 2014 on: Senior editor, “Journal of Islamic Archaeology”; 2015 on: Member of editorial board, “Comparative Islamic Studies”; 2004 on: Member of editorial board, “Mamluk Studies Review” (University of Chicago); 2007 on: Member of editorial board, “Bulletin d’ Études Orientales”; 2013 on: Member of editorial board, “Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research”; 2005-2007: Board of Directors, Middle East Medievalists; 2004-2012: Member of editorial board “Near Eastern Archaeology”


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 BW’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

Archaeological Project Affiliations: 

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


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:

  1. Jordan in the Late Middle Ages: Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier. Chicago 2011.
  2. (ed.), Reflections of Empire: Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant. Boston 2009.
  3. “The Northern Jordan Project and the ‘Liquid Landscapes” of Late Islamic Bilad al-Sham”, in: S. McPhillips and P. Wordworth (eds.), Landscapes of the Islamic World: Archaeology, History, and Ethnography. Philadelphia 2016, 184-199.
  4. “On Archives and Archaeology: Reassessing Mamluk Rule from Documentary Sources and Jordanian Fieldwork”, in: D. Talmon-Heller and K. Cytryn-Silverman (eds.), Material Evidence and Narrative Sources: Interdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Middle East. Leiden 2015, 113-143.
  5. Byzantine to Modern Ceramics, chapter in: D. Maliszewski (ed.), Polis-Pyrgos Archaeological Project: Post-Prehistoric Ceramics and Chalcolithic to Iron Age Ground Stone Artefacts from the Field Survey in Northwestern Cyprus, 1992-1999. Warsaw 2014, 97–37.
  6. Exercising Power on the Mamluk Frontier: The Phenomenon of the Small Rural Citadel, Case of Tall Hisban, in: P. Bielínski, R. Kolínski, D. Lawecka, A. Soltysiak, and Z. Wyganáska (ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, vol. 3. Wiesbaden 2014, 395-408.
  7. Mobility and Migration in Mamluk Syria: The Dynamism of Villagers ‘on the Move’, in: S. Conermann (ed.), Proceedings of the Conference “Everything is on the Move: The ‘Mamluk Empire’ as a Node in (Trans-) Regional Networks”. Bonn 2014, 325-348.
  8. Planned Villages and Rural Resilience on the Mamluk Frontier: A Preliminary Report on the 2013 Excavation Season at Tall Hisban, in: S: Conermann (ed.), History and Society during the Mamluk Period (1250-1517). Bonn 2014, 157-192.
  9. Settlement Decline or Internal Migration? ‘Reading’ Anew the History of Late Mamluk Jordan, Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan11, 2013, 93-104.
  10. What Can Archaeology Contribute to the New Mamlukology? Where Culture Studies and Social Theory Meet, in: S. Conermann (ed.), Ubi sumus? Quo vademus” Mamluk Studies – State of the Art. Bonn 2013, 311-335.
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