Collective Projects

Collective Projects contain initiatives of members of the School for collaborative activities, current research on the Abbasid period of School members, and international research projects in progress. Click on the project titles to read more about the project.
Putting the House of Wisdom in Order

The fourth Islamic century (roughly the tenth century CE) witnessed a proliferation of texts that aimed in one way or another to codify and render accessible the scientific and literary production of the preceding Islamic centuries and of the pre-Islamic cultures whose intellectual heritage had entered the purview of Arabic scholarly tradition. This project aims at a chronologically focused effort to understand the specifics of the new drive to classify and arrange that we see in the fourth century, and seeks understand the motivations for, and manifestations of the phenomenon.
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A Digital Corpus for Graeco-Arabic Studies

The Digital Corpus project aims to establish a bilingual Greek-Arabic corpus to document the 9th-11th century Greek-Arabic translation movement. It was carried out by Mark Schiefsky (Harvard University), Greg Crane (Tufts University, now Universität Leipzig) and Uwe Vagelpohl (University of Warwick) and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The corpus now comprises about 230 texts, three fifths of which are Greek, the rest Arabic. They include Greek philosophical, medical and scientific works, Arabic translations, commentaries and several important Arabic secondary and bio-bibliographical sources. The word count currently stands at ca. 1.2M Arabic and 3.3M Greek words. The texts can be viewed individually and side by side, searched and downloaded from the Digital Corpus website.

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Leverhulme Network

The Leverhulme Trust

Economic integration and social change in the Islamic world system
800-1000 CE.

The Leverhulme Network is set up by Fanny Bessard (SOAS and St Andrews) and Hugh Kennedy (SOAS) and is is being generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The network will last over three years from January 2015 to January 2018 and is intended to bring together scholars interested in the economic history of the Islamic Middle East c.750-1050 CE. In a series of three, full funded international conferences. The papers from each conference will be published in individual volumes.

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Cambridge Digital Library


Cambridge University Library has digitised a selection of Islamic Manuscripts fro m its Near and Middle Eastern Department. This collection includes several important early Qurʾans written in the Abbasid period. The Digital Library provides excellent quality images that can be downloaded and reused under a CC non-commercial licence.

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Greek into Arabic

Greek into Arabic

Philosophical Concepts and Linguistic Bridges is an ERC project (European Research Council Ideas Advanced Grant 249341) on the transmission of the Greek philosophical texts to the Arabic-speaking world. Currently, the following three teams are at work:

  • The team of the Università di Pisa works on the Theology of Aristotle
  • The team of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum works on the Glossarium Graeco-Arabicum
  • The team of the ILC/CNR, Pisa works on the software Pinakes Text Greek & Arabic
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Library of Arabic Literature

New York University

The Library of Arabic Literature is a long-term project, funded by a grant from NYUAD’s research center, the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, will initially publish 35 English translations of the great works of classical Arabic literature. The translations, rendered in parallel-text format with Arabic and English on facing pages, will be undertaken by renowned scholars of Arabic literature and Islamic studies. The translations will include a full range of works, including poetry, poetics, fiction, religion, philosophy, law, science, history and historiography.

LAL will be directed by a group of distinguished scholars from around the world. Philip Kennedy, Faculty Director, NYUAD Institute, will serve as the General Editor; James E. Montgomery, Professor of Classical Arabic at Cambridge University, and Shawkat M. Toorawa, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale, will serve as the Executive Editors. Julia Bray (University of Oxford), Michael Cooperson (UCLA), Joseph E. Lowry (University of Pennsylvania), Tahera Qutbuddin (University of Chicago), and Devin Stewart (Emory University), comprise LAL’s Editorial Board. These eight editors will be involved in the selection of the texts, the commissioning of the translations, the review of manuscripts, and the vetting of the final translations. In addition, a twenty-six member International Advisory Board will provide the Editors with guidance and direction as the project moves forward.
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The Early Islamic Empire at Work

The View from the Regions Toward the Centre

European Research Council – Advanced Grant no.: 340362
Principal Investigator: Prof. Stefan Heidemann
Host Institution: Universität Hamburg

General aim

The aim of this project is a better understanding of the political and economic workings of a pre-modern empire, the Islamic Empire (660-940 C.E.),which stretches over almost the entire Hellenistic-Roman world from the Atlantic to the Hindukush. The project is a systematic attempt to explain the functioning of the empire from its regions and the brokering and management abilities of the caliphate and its various elites.

Key regions

The project looks at five key regions, North Africa,Bilad al-Sham, Northern Mesopotamia, Fars and Khurasan, establishing the changing political and economic structures and chronologies, at once identifying trans-regional political, military, judicial, and indigenous elites. It is to be expected that the central caliphal government shows itself in a more conscious role as moderator between the regions.

Multidisciplinary approach

In order to shift our understanding of the functioning of the empire to a region-driven view, a multidisciplinary and multilayered approach has been chosen. Parallel to but independent from literary sources, centre-based chronicles and biographical dictionaries, other sources are used as well, such as sequences of coins, the results of archaeological excavations, and regional surveys, together with a data-base study of elite groups connecting the regions with the centre.
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Latest news

Journal of Abbasid Studies

Now available: JAS 5

The Journal of Abbasid Studies (JAS) is a platform to discuss the political, cultural, social, economic, religious and intellectual life of the Abbasid Caliphate. The JAS 5 Special Issue on ‘Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī is now available. Read more »

Light Abbasid

Join a round table!

Journal of Abbasid Studies Round Tables provide the opportunity for participants to move outside their areas of specific expertise and challenge established approaches within their field.
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Send in your submission for JAS

The editors of JAS invite submissions from established and early career scholars. For more information, please email Dr. Monique Bernards at

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