Welcome to the School of Abbasid Studies!

The School of Abbasid Studies was originally founded by the late Dr. D.E.P. Jackson and the late Professor J.N. Mattock in the early eighties and was based at the University of St Andrews. After some ten years in abeyance, the School was revived by Hugh Kennedy, James Montgomery, John Nawas and Monique Bernards in 2000.

Our mission

The School of Abbasid Studies (SAS) is intended to provide a forum for the discussion of the political, cultural, social, economic, religious and intellectual life of the Abbasid Caliphate from c.700 – c.1250 C.E., a time span approximately bounded by the formative period of early Islam and the invasion of the Mongols. (The Fatimid Caliphate and al-Andalus will only be covered tangentially.)

The aim of the School is to bring together scholars working on the Abbasid world but in disciplines which would rarely “talk” together – working towards a holistic contemplation of the Abbasid world.


The School holds biennial meetings hosted by the Universities of its directors or one of its members. Since 1992, fourteen conferences have been held at the universities of Cambridge, Leuven, St Andrews, Exeter, Istanbul, and Leiden. The most recent conference was held at Yale University (USA) in July 2018.

In Memoriam | Josef van Ess

Latest news

Most recent conference

The fifteenth conference of the School of Abbasid Studies took place from Tuesday July 12 till Saturday July 16, 2022
at Oxford University, UK.

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Awards 2021


Alastair Northedge, Paris-based British professor, researcher and archaeologist best known for his surveys of Samarra, is 2020 laureate of Tamayouz Excellence Award’s Special Recognition Award.
The Special Recognition Award aims to celebrate and recognize contributions to humanity, architecture and the built environment and is presented annually to individuals or organizations.
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Michael Cooperson, professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures, has received the Sheikh Zayed Award for his Arabic-to-English translation of “Impostures” by Maqamat Al-Hariri.
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New publication

Popeye and Curly: 120 Days in Medieval Baghdad
Written and Illustrated by Emily Selove

Popeye and Curly is a book of cartoons about Abbasid Baghdad, starring book-loving author Popeye (al-Jahiz) and winebibbing poet Curly (Abu Nuwas), along with their friends Coral (a singing girl) and the Caliph of one of the world’s most influential empires in history. Each episode is derived from historical sources, and designed to entertain, educate, and amaze.

It includes a short preface by Geert Jan van Gelder, as well as a bibliography and index. The full-colour pictures are inspired by illustrations of al-Hariri’s Maqamat.

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Years of existence