European Research Council Advanced Grant funded project (694254 ERC-2015-AdG)
Why do people convert to Islam? The contemporary relevance of this question is immediately apparent. Assessing genuine belief is difficult, but the impact of trade, Saints, Sufis and Holy men, proselytisation, benefits gained from Arabic literacy and administration systems, enhanced power, prestige, warfare, and belonging to the larger Muslim community have all been suggested. Equally significant is the context of conversion. Why were certain sub-Saharan African cities key points for conversion to Islam, e.g. Gao and Timbuktu in the Western Sahel, and Harar in Ethiopia? Archaeological engagement with Islamisation processes and contexts of conversion in Africa is variable, and in parts of the continent research is static. This project, directed by Professor Timothy Insoll, Al-Qasimi Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, is exploring Islamic conversion and Islamisation through focusing on Harar, the most important living Islamic centre in the Horn of Africa, and its surrounding region.
The project team are involved in a wide range of activities and relevant recent events include:
November 2017. African Archaeology Research Day, University of York, UK
October 2017. Seminar in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies on current PhD and Post-Doctoral Research in the Centre for Islamic Archaeology.
July 2017. Red Sea VIII Conference, University of Warsaw, Poland
June 2017. Formal launch of the new Centre for Islamic Archaeology in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies with Professor Timothy Insoll as Director.
April 2017. “Islamic Archaeology in Global Perspective Conference”, Bahrain National Museum (11th-14th April). Organised by Professor Timothy Insoll with the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.