Past events


Fall – Winter

9 October
EmCo guest: Antoine Borrut

The EmCo team met with Dr. Antoine Borrut and discussed several aspects of the early Islamic empire. Reza Huseini presented three different narratives on the conquest of Qom preserved in the book Tārīkh-I Qom and we had a fruitful conversation on historical memory, one of Borrut’s specialisation. Alon Dar presented his work on Umayyad governors in Egypt, and procedures and terminology of their appointment to office. In the afternoon we had a chance to hear from Borrut on his current work on the early Islamic empire as a cosmopolis, and to discuss his article on power and mobility of the Umayyad caliphs.

Read more on Antoine Borrut (University of Maryland).

30 September – 2 October
EmCo guest: Étienne de La Vaissière

The EmCo team hosted professor Étienne de La Vaissière, who presented his work on the ‘Abbasid revolution in Marw. We also enjoyed discussing with him his book Samarcande et Samarra, on the origins of the institution of Mamluks and its integration to the Islamic empire. Team member Reza Huseini presented his work on Bactria in the pre- and post-Islamic conquest. Eline Scheerlinck’s talk focused on local elites in Egypt, and Alon Dar presented his paper on the banu Fahm rebellion in Egypt.

Read more on Étienne de La Vaissière (EHESS)

26 September
LUCIS’ What’s New?! lecture

Ed Hayes delivered a lecture in the LUCIS’ lecture series “What’s New?!” entitled: “The Agents of the Hidden Imam and the Genesis of Twelver Shi’ism

19 September
Symposium on Sacred Economies

Ed Hayes gave a short presentation on Early Islam during this symposium on Sacred Economies.

12 – 14 September
Conference: Negotiation in Conquest: wars, treaties and recollections of the rise of the caliphate

Together with LUCIS, the Embedding Conquest team organised this conference on the dynamics of negotiation in the process of conquest and the subsequent building of the caliphate. Find the list of speakers and programme here.

9 – 13 September
Conference: Ninth European Conference of Iranian Studies (ECIS 9)

Team member Reza Huseini presented his paper entitled: “The Idea and Practice of Justice in Eastern Iranian World in Late Antiquity: The Case of Bactria/Tukharistan” at this conference. More information on the conference can be found here.

Spring – Summer

28 July – 3 August
Conference: 29th International Congress of Papyrology

Team members Petra and Eline gave papers at this conference, which is held every three years and which this year took place in Lecce, Italy. Find the programme here.

8 – 11 July
Conference: Movement and Mobility in the Medieval Mediterranean (6th – 15th centuries)

Petra Sijpesteijn gave a talk entitled “Global Networks: Mobility and Exchange in the Mediterranean (600-1000)” at this conference in Barcelona. Find the video of Petra’s lecture here.

6 – 7 June
EmCo guest: Federico Morelli

Greek papyrologist Federico Morelli from Vienna gave feedback on team members Eline and Petra’s presentations. The team and other colleagues discussed some of Morelli’s earlier work on the administration and mechanisms of justice and letter writing in early Islamic Egypt. Morelli presented the results of his project on prices of products in late antiquity.

21 – 22 May
EmCo guest: Nicholas Sims-Williams

Specialist of Bactrian and Sogdian languages and documentary practice, Nicholas Sims-Williams, visited the EmCo team. Team member Reza presented and discussed his research on the concept and mechanisms of justice in the Bactrian documents. Nicholas Sims-Williams gave an introduction to Bactrian documents and presented a Bactrian document illuminating family law. Team members Petra and Eline also presented some of the documents in Arabic and Coptic which they study, and discussed possible parallels in the Central Asian documentation known to our guest.

16-17 May
Seminar: Coptic Ostraca from the Theban Region

Team member Eline gave a presentation on the “Coptic Protection Letters from Western Thebes” at this seminar organised by Renate Dekker.

Take a look at the programme of this seminar, intended to bring this material to a wider public.

3 May
Book launch: Change and Continuity in the Abbasid Egyptian Countryside (with LUCIS)

Find the programme here.

Book launch of the volume “Authority and Control in the Countryside: From Antiquity to Islam in the Mediterranean and Near East (6th-10th Century)”, edited by  Alain Delattre,  Marie Legendre, and Petra Sijpesteijn. With presentations by, a.o., team members Petra, Alon, Cecilia, and Eline.

29 April
EmCo guest: Christian Müller

LUCIS Spring Fellow and specialist in Islamic Law sat down with the EmCo team members to read the documents that they are studying and to discuss questions such as “What makes a document a legal document?”

28 April
Lecture: Ziek, zwak en misselijk: brieven met klachten en rampen uit middeleeuws Egypte

Project leader Petra gave a public lecture (in Dutch) on request letters on papyrus from Early Islamic Egypt in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

Read here an abstract (in Dutch) of this lecture.

23 April
EmCo guests: Michael Macdonald and Ahmad Al-Jallad

On the occasion of the PhD defense of dr Fokelien Kootstra, the EmCo team had a round table discussion with one of the examination committee members, Michael Macdonald, and co-supervisor, Ahmad Al-Jallad, on the epigraphic habit of late antique Arabia. PhD student Abdullah Alhatlani presented an outline of his doctoral thesis: Early Arabic inscriptions in the Hijaz (Medina-Mecca-AL-Ula).

24- 25 January
Workshop: Acts of Protection in the early Islamicate Empire

Read team member Alon’s blog on this workshop!

Team member Eline and the rest of the Emco team organised a workshop with international specialists on the theme: Acts of Protection in the early Islamicate Empire.

This workshop explored the relevance of arrangements of protection, and threatened withdrawal of protection as part of the frameworks of reciprocity and solidarity which allowed the early Islamic Empire to function. Through specific documents, or the historical or literary presentation of specific events, the participants presented instances where protection is offered, requested, or withheld.

See our programme for a list of the participants.

23 January
EmCo guest: Hugh Kennedy

One of the speakers at the workshop on Acts of Protection, Hugh Kennedy, presented and discussed two of his current research projects: the economy of the Abbasids and the concept of sultan.


Fall – Winter

14 December
Conference presentation: Documents and Digital Analysis in Assessing the Early Islamic Tradition

EmCo team member Ed Hayes, and our research trainee Munirah Eskandar presented a paper in the Colloquium, Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? Analytics, Tools, Corpora, at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 13-15 December 2018. The paper addressed how digital text-mining tools can be use to find parallels in the literary sources to documentary evidence from papyri and parchment letters.

27 November
Lunch talk: Networks of Protection. Travel documents in Early Islamic Egypt

EmCo team member, Eline Scheerlinck, gave a lunch talk in the Ancient Worlds Network at Leiden University.

16 November   
Shiʿi Piety: Theory and Materiality from Premodern to Postmodern, Early-career workshop funded by the Juynboll Stichting and LUCIS

Organized by EmCo team member, Edmund Hayes, at which EmCo member Reza Husseini discussed “Representations of the Shiʿa-Sunni conflict in Mughul Historiography: the case of Tārīkh-i alfī

Programme available here.

14- 15 November
LUCIS Annual Conference: Approaching Shiʿi Islam in the Academy

Organized by members of the LUCIS programme in Shiʿi Studies, including EmCo team member, Edmund Hayes.

Programme available here.

1 November
EmCo Guest, Aaron Hughes     

With Aaron Hughes, the EmCo team discussed ways of developing robust categories for conceptualizing religion (or avoiding religion as a category) in reading documents and writing early Islamic history.

September- October
LUCIS al-Babtain visiting professor, Wadad Kadi

The EmCo team spent several enlightening sessions reading papyri with Professor Kadi.

11-13 October          
Conference: The Reach of Empire – The Early Islamic Empire at Work, University of Hamburg

EmCo members, Eline Scheerlinck and Ed Hayes participated in the final conference of the Hamburg ERC project, “The Early Islamic Empire at Work – The View from the Regions Toward the Center” directed by Stefan Heidemann, learning a lot from other presenters, and from the Hamburg project team in the way they conceptualized the style of control, domination and influence within the empire and the role of local actors in different regional contexts.

30 September
Lecture: Vluchtelingen en hun beschermers in de Koptische en Griekse papyri van vroeg-islamitisch Egypte, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

EmCo team member, Eline Scheerlinck gave a talk at the Rijksmuseum, on the topic of her ongoing PhD research, refugees and their protectors in Coptic and Greek papyri from early Islamic egypt.

12-13 September
EmCo Guest Eduardo Manzano

Eduardo Manzano presented his ideas on how to understand medieval Islamic institutions, in comparison with medieval European institutions, and other areas of the pre-modern world, with the EmCo  team and a group of Leiden specialists, including Hilde de Weerdt, Ab de Jong, Jos Gommans, Berthe Jansen.

7 September
Conference: Research Trainees Program

EmCo’s research trainees Munirah Eskandar and Daan Sanderse presented their work on “Digital Innovation in Medieval Arabic History” and the integration of digital humanities to the field of early Islam.

Spring – Summer

25-27 June
EmCo Guest Robert Hoyland

Robert Hoyland presented his new research on the understandings of religion in pre-Islamic Arabia, and entered into conversation with the EmCo team and other Leiden specialists. See EmCo team member, Ed Hayes’s LUCIS blog inspired by the conversation here.

17-18 May
Leiden University  Global Interactions Conference: Correspondence, Cross-pollination and Control

This conference was organized by EmCo team members, Petra Sijpesteijn and Ed Hayes.

See the programme here.

12-13 April        
EmCo workshop on letters

In this workshop, the EmCo team invited specialists on various aspects of letter-writing in the early Islamic world: Maurice Pomerantz, Maaike van Berkel, Werner Diem, Sebastian Richter, and Ahmad Khan.

20-23 March     
International Society for Arabic Papyrology (ISAP) conference, Berlin               

The EmCo team visited Berlin together to present papers related to Arabic papyrology.

See the programme here:

11-19 March     

EmCo Guest Fred Donner

We read the fascinating “ʿUmar papyrus” with a blue-haired Fred Donner, and discussed Islamic origins.

6 March
LUCIS Guest Karen Bauer

The EmCo team took advantage of Karen Bauer’s visit as LUCIS fellow, to engage in a conversation on how to conceptualize emotions in documents.

15-16 February
EmCo Guest Arietta Papaconstantinou

Discussions with Arietta Papaconstantinou revolved around the nature of the pre-modern Islamic ‘state’, and the role of non-Muslim populations in making the Islamic empire.

1-2 February
EmCo Guest Jürgen Paul

Jürgen Paul presented some of his work on the hereditary elites of pre- and early-Islamic Iran, helping us to think about the interface between the centralizing authority of the caliphate, and the embedded authority of local elites.



Fall – Winter

1 December
Richard Payne (University of Chicago)

We met with Richard Payne and discussed his latest research on the Sassanid empire.

28 November
Kick off meeeting of the Central Asian Reading Group (November 2017 – May 2018)

EmCo members and other Leiden specialists participated and presented in a reading group on various aspects in the history of  central-Asia, organized by EmCo member Reza Huseini.

13-14 November
EmCo Guest, Majied Robinson (Edinburgh University)

We were happy to welcome Majied Robinson, who gave a lecture entitled “Marriage, Mecca and the immigrant Quraysh”. We also discussed the Emco team’s research with him.

9-11 November
Conference: Late Antique Religion in Practice: Papyri and the Dynamics of Religious Identification

Organized by Mattias Brand, Cisca Hoogendijk and EmCo team member, Eline Scheerlinck.

With papers by EmCo team members Petra Sijpesteijn: “Blessings for the Prophet and his family” and Eline Scheerlinck: “Like oil in their bones. Threats, Excommunication and Religious Identification beyond Late Antiquity”.

See the programme here.

Spring – Summer

31 August-1 September
EmCo Guest, Arezou Azad (University of Birmingham)

We were happy to welcome Arezou Azad, with whom we discussed her earlier project, the Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage Project.

9-12 May
EmCo Guest, Jennifer Cromwell (University of Copenhagen)

We had the honor of hosting the most eloquent Jennifer Cromwell, with whom we discussed her recent book,  “Recording Village Life: A Coptic Scribe in Early Islamic Egypt”.

Sarah Savant and Maxim Romanov

LUCIS Spring Fellow Sarah Savant and LUCDH (Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities) guest Maxim Romanov talked on several occasions on digital humanities approach to Islamic History with the team members, who also benefitted from both scholars’ lectures.











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