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Prof. Dr. Bethany J. Walker

Principal Investigator

Bethany Walker

University of Bonn
Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA)
Department of Islamic Studies
Research Unit in Islamic Archaeology
Brühler Str. 7
D-53119 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


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

Participation in Centers and Collaborative Projects

  • 2015–present      Member of editorial board, “Comparative Islamic Studies”
  • 2014–present      Senior editor, “Journal of Islamic Archaeology”
  • 2013–present      Member of editorial board, “Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research”
  • 2007–present      Member of editorial board, “Bulletin d’ Études Orientales”
  • 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)
  • 2005–2007          Board of Directors, Middle East Medievalists
  • 2004–present      Member of editorial board, “Mamluk Studies Review” (University of Chicago)
  • 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

  • “The Northern Jordan Project and the ‘Liquid Landscapes” of Late Islamic Bilad al-Sham”. In: S. McPhillips, P. Wordworth (eds.): Landscapes of the Islamic World: Archaeology, History, and Ethnography. Philadelphia 2016, 184-199.
  • “On Archives and Archaeology: Reassessing Mamluk Rule from Documentary Sources and Jordanian Fieldwork”. In: D. Talmon-Heller, K. Cytryn-Silverman (eds.): Material Evidence and Narrative Sources: Interdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Middle East. Leiden 2015, 113-143.
  • Byzantine to Modern Ceramics. 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.
  • 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, Z. Wyganáska (ed.): Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Volume 3. Wiesbaden 2014, 395-408.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Settlement Decline or Internal Migration? ‘Reading’ Anew the History of Late Mamluk Jordan. In: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 11 (2013), 93-104.
  • 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.
  • Jordan in the Late Middle Ages: Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier. Chicago 2011.
  • (ed.): Reflections of Empire: Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant. Boston 2009.
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