Gregory Williams

  • Fellowship Dates 2017-2018
  • Research Topic Another View from the Edge: The Frontier of Aswan in the Early Islamic World
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of Bonn
The town of Aswan in the 9th century CE was a prosperous provincial capital on the major Hajj pilgrimage route to Mecca and Medina as well as the trade route connecting the Nile River to the Wadi al ‘Allaqi mines, Egypt’s main source of gold in the early medieval period. It sat at the border, separating Muslim Egypt from Christian Nubia, separating the Dar al Islam from the Dar al Harb. Despite this, little attention has been paid to this important Egyptian city. The almost exclusive focus on Cairo has had an enormous effect on how we understand daily life in medieval Egypt. This project investigates the material culture and history of a forgotten frontier of the Islamic world, and by leaving the center and going to its edge, teaches us about a multi-religious and multi-ethnic medieval Egypt. The project examines ceramic finds from salvage excavations carried out in Aswan. It provides an opportunity to ‘read,’ illustrate and photograph diagnostic material. Islamic history and Islamic archaeology are fields that can communicate with each other if source material from both disciplines is used to make comparisons. This project provides a unique opportunity to do this by producing a working catalogue of ceramic ware groups fully referenced with comparanda. This type of study about the later periods in Egypt provides a great deal of information on cooking practices, access to raw materials, and trade and exchange with neighboring localities or faraway regions. It is both an archaeological study of Aswan based on pottery and a trans-disciplinary project that incorporates textual source material and the work of scholars from architectural studies, papyrology, geology, geography and maritime studies.

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