About this website

While large digitalization projects are a good thing, it also makes it increasingly difficult to keep track of what is happening in the field. By listing important databases and other sources, this website intends to help scholars in the field of Early Islam and the Late Antique Near East with that. The focus is on material sources and we hope to encourage the use of such sources to get a fuller understanding of the history of Islam.

The website originates in the work of the project, Embedding Conquest: Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600-1000) (PI Petra Sijpesteijn) at Leiden University funded by the European Research Council (ERC), grant agreement No 683194. However, work done on the site is not limited to the scope of the project. Instead, it is conceived as a tool linking communities of scholars, and collaboration is welcomed.

The project offers a strong example of how to move away from ‘traditional sources’ like literary texts and integrate a variety of material sources ranging from coins to potsherds to papyri. By placing items that were initially mostly collected for their esthetic value, in a wider historical context, new connections start to appear.  While the focus on documentary evidence is relatively new in this field, we found that the availability of handbooks and overview websites is still limited. Additionally scholars might feel some anxiety to move into a ‘new field’. Where do you start, when you want to incorporate a variety of material sources that you have not worked with before into your research? That is why we made this website, as a starting point to incorporate material sources to supplement ‘traditional’ historical research. An inherent part of working with collections is also to question collection-activity. Where did certain artifacts come from and how did they end up in the collection they are in. For a short introduction on provenance, read our blog.

The site is intended to outlive the five-year project and we welcome collaboration. The site is updated by a team of editors and contributors who check and update content. If you are interested in getting involved, then send an email to Edmund Hayes with “Material Sources Website” in the subject line at: e.hayes@let.ru.nl.

Curators of the site include:

Alon Dar, Edmund Hayes, Mikel Herran, Elizabeth Hicks,  Said Reza Huseini, Katarina Mokranova, Hagit Nol, Cecilia Palombo, Marijn van Putten,  Eline Scheerlinck

Thanks to the following contributors for supplying us with suggestions: Birte Kristiansen, Fokelien Kootstra, Joanita Vroom, Peter Webb.