Cairo – an African Metropolis. A Kazimierz Michałowski Memorial Lecture by Prof. Timothy Insoll

Professor Timothy Insoll will present a lecture in the PCMA UW Research Centre in Cairo as part of the Kazimierz Michałowski Memorial Lecture Series. Prof. Insoll’s talk is entitled: “Cairo – an African Metropolis. Archaeological Perspectives on Contacts between Cairo and Eastern Ethiopia in the 12th to 15th Centuries”.

Abstract: Archaeological material from recent excavations in the medieval trading centre of Harlaa in eastern Ethiopia suggests significant contacts were maintained with Egypt, particularly in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, but filtered through the broader agency of Red Sea trade. The place of Harlaa in its regional and international context will be described before assessing the specific evidence for links with both Cairo, and Egypt more generally. This includes glazed ceramics and more specialized types of unglazed ceramics, glass wares, and coins as well as technological knowledge, specifically in relation to the use of carved stone moulds for jewellery production that were imported from Egypt, with worked marine shell and possibly textiles exported to Egypt in return. This evidence will be considered so as to begin to reconstruct the relationship between Cairo and eastern Ethiopia, and to assess why this came to an end in the fifteenth century.

Professor Timothy Insoll is the Al-Qasimi Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology and the Director of the Centre for Islamic Archaeology at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. His research interests include the archaeology of Africa in the Iron Age and Global Islamic archaeology. He heads the ERC-funded project “Becoming Muslim. Conversion to Islam and Islamisation in Eastern Ethiopia”. For his full scientific biography, see his profile on the University of Exeter website.

The Kazimierz Michałowski Memorial Lecture Series is organized by the PCMA Research Centre in Cairo to commemorate the life of Kazimierz Michałowski, a pioneer of Polish archaeological research in Egypt and the founder of Polish Mediterranean archaeology.

  • Wednesday, 5th January 2022, at 6 pm (EET).
    The lecture will be held in hybrid form: at the PCMA UW Research Centre in Cairo (11 Mahalla st., Heliopolis, Cairo)* and on Zoom.
    Please, write to to attend in person or obtain a link.

*Face masks required.