BILNAS Lectures are normally held at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH.  Members living in the United Kingdom will receive invitations to all of these events. Non-members are also welcome to attend. We will keep BILNAS members informed of any changes to this policy.

If you wish to contact the Institute about our events programme, please email the General Secretary: [email protected]

Below is a list of recordings of our online lectures and webinars. If you would like to view a recording of one of our virtual lectures or webinars, please choose from the list of titles below and click on the link to that recording.

List of Online Lectures and Webinars – available now to download or stream

Title: ‘Contested urban fabrics: making markets with second-hand garments in Tunis’ by Katharina Grüneisl

Date Delivered: Tuesday 16 April 2024

Description: This talk is concerned with the making of markets at the back end of the global clothing value chain. It chooses the vantage point of Tunisia, North Africa’s largest current importer and re-exporter of European and North American used garments, to ask how such transnational surplus circulations become contested fabrics of market-making. Cast-out in their origin countries as excess matter, imported used garments must be actively re-incorporated into the market through contingent processes of valuation. Life histories of used clothes traders and encounters with diverse actors who participate in valuation work with imported used clothing in Tunisia’s capital city Tunis elucidate how the urban market becomes delimited as an evolving sphere of circulation, valuation, and exchange. As this talk demonstrates, the making and re-making of such market boundaries has transformed the urban fabric of Tunis past and present. Market-making is thus analysed as a situated process of urban order-making and spatial co-production, providing new perspectives on the contested processes through which markets remake contemporary cities.

Speaker: Katharina Grüneisl is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham and an affiliated researcher at the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC). She is interested in cities, ethnography, economies, and work; as part of her research, shestudies the used clothing trade and garment industry in Tunisia and Jordan.

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Title: ‘The Forum of Sala: Architectural Evolution of a North African Town Across the Pre-Roman and Roman Eras’ by Dr Rossella Pansini

Date Delivered: Thursday 21 March 2024

Description: This lecture presents the main contents of the recently published book ‘Il Foro di Sala, 3. Edifici e ricostruzioni’ (Rome, Quasar Editions 2023), which is dedicated to the architectural and urban analysis of the ancient town of Sala. This site, currently known as Chellah (Rabat, Morocco), shows traces of pre-Roman, Roman, and medieval-period occupation. The lecture focuses on the pre-Roman and Roman phases of the town, and on the study and 3D reconstruction work that was carried out recently on the buildings in the monumental district. The methodological process behind the work is described and the case study of the so-called ‘Temple A’, a pre-Roman sacred building that was reused, transformed, and enhanced during the Roman period, is presented.

Speaker: Dr Rossella Pansini is a Post-Doc and Research Assistant at the University of Siena, Italy. Her main research interests concern ancient construction: architectural stratigraphy, building techniques, and analysis of architectural design. She is also a specialist in topographic surveying, GIS, photogrammetry, and 3D digital reconstruction.

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Title: ‘Connecting Archives Connecting People (CACP) Project: Wikidata Workshop
‘ / مشروع “ربط الأرشيف، ربط الناس” (CACP) – ورشة عمل ويكي بيانات (العربية)

Date Delivered: Wednesday 27 September 2023 (English); Monday 15 January 2024 (Arabic)

Description: As part of the Connecting Archives Connecting People (CACP) Project, the Wikidata Workshops brought together archivists and scholars to align objectives and methods. The aim of the workshops was to understand the person data in archives, and set standards for their use, drawing on the rich experience of the WikiData community. The first half of each workshop featured a discussion on the scope of CACP and the second half provided a lecture and hands-on training regarding the use of Wikidata.

كجزء من مشروع ربط الأرشيفات وربط الأشخاص (CACP)، جمعت ورش عمل ويكي بيانات بين أمناء المحفوظات والعلماء لمواءمة الأهداف والأساليب.

كان الهدف من ورش العمل هو فهم البيانات الشخصية في الأرشيف، ووضع معايير لاستخدامها، بالاعتماد على الخبرة الغنية لمجتمع ويكي بيانات.

تضمن النصف الأول من كل ورشة عمل مناقشة لنطاق CACP، بينما قدم النصف الثاني محاضرة وتدريبًا عمليًا فيما يتعلق باستخدام ويكي بيانات.

Speaker(s): Both workshops were co-ordinated by Dr Nurdan Atalan Çayırezmez, (British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara).

Click here to watch this workshop on YouTube in English

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Title: ‘The Italian Air/Ground Exploration South of the Tropic of Cancer (1932-1936)’ by Roberto Chiarvetto

Date Delivered: Tuesday 16 January 2024

Description: After the Italian conquest of Libya was completed in 1931 with the capture of Kufra, an agreement on the borders of Libya with France and the United Kingdom became a necessity. To increase knowledge about the area and devise means to control it, a long series of land and air reconnaissance expeditions were undertaken. Wadi Abd el-Malik, “Almásy’s Zerzura” in the Gilf Kebir, was reached in November 1932, after two Italian biplanes had flown over Chad’s Ounianga lakes only a few weeks earlier.

Libya’s borders with Egypt and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan were agreed upon in 1934, but the 1935 Italo-French Agreements did not really put to rest the issues between these two nations in Africa. The recently appointed Governor of Libya, Air Marshal Italo Balbo, decided to explore the area in depth to question the agreement, and to reach a new one with the French that was more respectful of Italian geographical and political rights. A secret reconnaissance mission to the southernmost reaches of Libya was then very carefully planned and carried out in July 1936.

Speaker: Roberto Chiarvetto is an independent researcher who has authored several articles on military history and technology. Together with other authors, in 2009 he co-wrote Incident at Jebel Sherif; in 2010, L’attacco a Cufra/The Attack on Kufra; and in 2016, 50° Stormo 1936-2016.

For the Italian Air Force he has penned, together with Michele Soffiantini, articles for the official journal Rivista Aeronautica, followed in 2015 by In volo su Zerzura (which received a Special Mention at the Premio Douhet 2016 and a Special Award at the Premio Corsena 2017) and in 2018 by its revised and expanded English edition Flying over Zerzura, and A sud del Tropico del Cancro in 2022 (an official publication of the 100th Anniversary of the Air Force, which also received a Mention at the Premio Douhet 2022). His most recent publication, once more co-authored with Soffiantini, is a re-edition of a secret 1936 publication by the Governo Generale della Libia, dealing with Italo Balbo’s strategic exploration from the air of the western and southern reaches of the then-Italian Libyan colony.

In 2009 he took part in the TV documentary Lost in Libya, filmed in the Libyan Desert and broadcast by TV One New Zealand. In 2016, along with Soffiantini and the ITAF Museum in Vigna di Valle, he conceived and set up in the museum the permanent exhibition In Search of Zerzura, followed in 2017 by Due nomi un esempio about the famous Generals Lordi and Martelli Castaldi. He is a member of the British Institute for Libyan and Northern African Studies (BILNAS), the Gruppo Amici Velivoli Storici, and the Italian Zerzura Club.

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Title: ‘Agencies of Behavioural Change in Early Humans in North Africa’ by Prof Nick Barton – The British Institute for Libyan and Northern African Studies Annual Lecture.

Date Delivered: Tuesday 28 November 2023

Description: Wide–ranging behavioural and technological innovations have been described in the Middle and Later Stone Ages in North Africa from the early occurrence of symbolic culture over 100,000 years ago to the more recent appearance of cemeteries and inferred use of basketry c. 15,000 years ago.

Focusing on Morocco, this talk provides an overview of recent scientific developments and new archaeological discoveries and examines the impact of environmental change on early human populations in this region. The region of Morocco is particularly interesting because it lies on the north-western margins of the Sahara, in an area known to have experienced vast fluctuations in past rainfall, temperature, and vegetation, and which periodically became part of a ‘Green Sahara.’

Morocco also preserves caves with deep cultural and environmental sequences covering this timespan and containing some of the oldest fossils of Homo sapiens in Africa. As such, it provides a perfect test bed for examining environmental affordances and human responses (innovation, dispersal, population contraction) to changing climatic and environmental conditions over the last 150,000 years.

Speaker: Nick Barton is Emeritus Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at University of Oxford, UK. His research interests include: Early symbolism; Modern human behaviour in the Middle and Later Stone Age of North Africa; Human adaptations to environmental change in the Later Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic of Britain and northern Eurasia; Lithic technology and experimental archaeology; Cave taphonomy. His geographic areas of expertise include: Britain, North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia).

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Title: ‘The BILNAS Archive: Past, Present and Future’ by Felicity Crowe (BILNAS Archivist)

Date Delivered: Tuesday 31 October 2023

Description: The BILNAS Archive is a rich resource of material relating to Libyan and Northern African history, archaeology and culture. It covers a great variety of material, from David Smith’s archaeological plans of the Byzantine fortress at Tocra to correspondence with King Idris’s beekeeper. Much of the archive is related to archaeological excavations, some of which are as yet unpublished. This talk will look at the history of the archive, current work to catalogue the material and improve its accessibility, and future plans for the collection.

Speaker: Felicity Crowe has been the BILNAS Archivist since May 2022. Before taking up the role, she completed her archives training at Westminster School, gained a postgraduate diploma in Archives and Records Management at UCL, and was the 1821 Archive Project Assistant at the British School at Athens. She is interested in the wildflowers of Greece, commonplace books, fragments, and archives relating to the Mediterranean.

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Title: ‘Community Uses of the Marcus Aurelius Arch in Tripoli Before and After the Italian Conservation’ by Reem Furjani

Date Delivered: Tuesday 23 May 2023

Description: This talk discusses the notion of authenticity in heritage meaning-making by illustrating how local communities identify and interpret value in cultural heritage, and the effect of authoritarian conservation on this process.

Focused on the Roman Arch of Marcus Aurelius in the Old City of Tripoli (Libya) as a case study, it traces a change in the ways in which the local community used the Arch before and after the Italian restoration in the early 20th century, which intended to ‘re-monumentalize’ the colonial symbol and orchestrate perceptions of it. This change is uncovered by taking two sections in the timeline of the Arch: the first from 13th-20th century ethnographic records of local uses, and the second based on current post-2011 field observations, revealing a process of decay and re-creation of meaning attributed to the ruin and within which spatial transformation plays a central role, both as a manifestation of community interpretations and as a tool to condition them.

This illuminates that communities have context-specific value systems and interests that underpin their ways of dealing with heritage, and which can differ from the systems of expert and Western definitions of heritage that dictate practices today.

Speaker: Reem Furjani is a researcher on critical heritage studies and cultural policies from Tripoli, Libya. She holds BArch and Honours Masters degrees in Architecture and has started a PhD on this same subject. Her interests lie in the intersections between critical sociology and management of culturally significant spaces. Her research work explores communal interpretations of heritage and socially performative uses of it. She is Founder and Director of Scene for Culture and Heritage; Ambassador to ICOMOS General Assembly 2023; Investigator at INHERIT Heritage Resilience Network at Anglia Ruskin University; and Co-Founder of the Mediterranean Association for Data Interchange (MADI). Recently, she was a Fellow at the American Institute for Maghreb Studies (AIMS) and Member of the Steering Committee of the Conference on Libyan Humanities with AIMS and the US Embassy to Libya. She received the prestigious Chevening Scholarship Award for a Fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) in 2022-23 and the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Opler Grant Award in 2020.

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Title: ‘Ruins of the Empire: Roman Antiquities in Fascist Libya’ by Simona Troilo (University of L’Aquila)

Date Delivered: Tuesday 28 March 2023

Description: Archaeology in Libya played a key role in the fascist regimes consensus machine. It served to strengthen the historical imagery of fascism and the ideal connection between Metropole and Colony. Its political value prompted the regime to launch excavation campaigns, inaugurate museums and colonial collections, and popularise antiquities among different social strata. This talk will show how the creation of an imperial heritage was part of the construction of the colonys system of domination. On the one hand, this system incorporated the materials of the past into Italianess; on the other, it liberated the spaces of antiquity from the presence of intruders, who were considered extraneous to the cultural tradition of these places. Archaeology thus became a further tool to define imperial hierarchies, identify a subaltern Otherness, and assert a totalitarian’ control over the territory.

Speaker: Simona Troilo is an Associate Professor of Contemporary History at the University of LAquila (Italy). Her research interests include the use of antiquities in imperialism and colonialism, the construction of Otherness through the materials of the past, and the relationship between materiality, visuality and narrativity in coloniality. Her publications include: Pietre d’oltremare. Scavare, conservare, immaginare l’Impero (1899-1940), Rome-Bari: Laterza 2021; Visions of the Empire. The ruins of Roman past in Fascist LybiaNuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science, 37, 2022, 615-642; Roma in coloniaResti e reperti della romanità nella Libia fascista, in E. Migliario and G. Santucci (eds), «Noi figli di Roma». Fascismo e mito della romanità, Florence: Le Monnier 2022, 85-110; Casta e bianca. La Venere di Cirene tra Italia e Libia (1913-2008)Memoria e Ricerca1, 2018, 133-156Passaggio a Creta. Archeologi italiani tra imperialismo e nazionalismo nell’Egeo (1899-1910), Contemporanea: Rivista di Storia dell’800 e del 900, 3, 2017, 413-442; gust of cleansing wind: Italian archaeology on Rhodes and in Libya in the early years of occupation (1911-1914), Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 17.1, 2012, 45-69; Pratiche coloniali. La tutela tra musealizzazione e monumentalizzazione nella Rodi “italiana” (1912-1926)Passato e Presente, 87, 2012, 80-104.

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Title: ‘In Search of the Sources of the Sources: Exploring Fatimid Libraries of North Africa’ by Dr Kumail Rajani

Date Delivered: Tuesday 29 November 2022

Description: Soon after the Fatimids established their hegemony over North Africa, a new genre of literature was produced under the rubric of ʿulūm Āl al-Bayt (sciences of the progeny of the Prophet). Works on history, theology, law, polemics, esoteric sciences, allegorical interpretation of the Qurʾan, biographical literature among several other were produced. It is evident that Fatimid scholars had to have recourse to earlier collections of Medina, Egypt, Yemen, Baghdad and Qum as they cite them consistently in their writings and incorporates them into their works.

These early collections, most of which no longer exist, equipped the scholars with the raw material from which they formulated and systematised various aspects of Ismaʿili beliefs and practices. It is detailing these lost sources and highlighting their role in enabling us to make sense of early Shiʿite literary activities that this talk will be primarily concerned.

Speaker: Dr Kumail Rajani is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. He is the recipient of the Post Doctoral Writing Fellowship from the British Institute for Libyan and Northern African Studies (BILNAS). Though primarily focused on the origins and development of hadith corpora, his research includes Islamic law, legal theory, and Shiʿi studies more broadly. He recently published an article entitled “Between Qum and Qayrawān: Unearthing early Shii ḥadīth sources” (BSOAS 84/3, 2021). He also edited The Sound Traditions: Studies in Ismaili Texts and Thought (Brill, 2021) and co-edited Shiʿite Legal Theory: Sources and Commentaries (forthcoming, 2022). He is currently working on converting his PhD (Making Sense of Ismaili Traditions: The Modes and Meanings of the Transmission of Ḥadīth in the Works of al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān (d. 363/974), Exeter) into a monograph, among other pursuits. Rajani spent a number of years in Shiʿite seminary (Ḥawza) of Qum studying and teaching classical Islamic texts of ḥadīth, fiqh and Islamic legal theory.

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Title: ‘Building the Countryside: Rural Architecture and Settlement in Tripolitania during the Roman and Late Antique Periods’ by Nichole Sheldrick

Date Delivered: Tuesday 17 May 2022

Description: This talk presents the results of a study which brings together data on the architecture and construction of over 2000 rural structures from across Tripolitania (northwest Libya and southern Tunisia) dating from the 1st c. BC until the 7th c. AD. The synthesis and standardisation of these data collected from both previously published investigations and from new remote surveys using satellite imagery have made it possible to conduct new analyses and comparisons between rural buildings from across the region. The study examines the plans, construction, and potential uses of the main types of structures which were built in different parts of Tripolitania’s countryside during the period under study, from small one- to two-room farm buildings to the large and imposing fortified farmhouses for which the region is well-known, and explores their development and significance in their historical and socio-cultural contexts.

Speaker: Dr Nichole Sheldrick is Senior Research Associate in Digital Archaeology for the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project at the University of Leicester. Her current research focuses on the archaeology and heritage of ancient North Africa, as well as on the application of Automatic Change Detection methods for satellite imagery to heritage management and protection. Following a doctorate in archaeology at the University of Oxford, Nichole also worked for the EAMENA project as a Research Associate at Oxford from 2015–2020, before taking on the role of Training Manager at Leicester, where she organised and delivered training for heritage professionals from Tunisia and Libya in EAMENA’s condition assessment and remote sensing methodologies. Over the last ten years she has participated in several fieldwork projects in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, and previously worked in the commercial archaeology sector in Ontario, Canada.

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Title: ‘Anglo-Libyan Relations in the 20th Century’ by Rupert Wieloch

Date Delivered: Tuesday 29 March 2022

Description: This talk discusses how Britain’s policy of non-interference in Libya was tested by the Italo-Ottoman war that began in 1911 and the Sanussi invasion of Egypt in 1915. Tracing the key moments in the Anglo-Libyan relationship – from the peace dialogue between Idris as-Sanussi and Milo Talbot that paved the way for the future Defence and Security treaty, to the July 1999 rapprochement when diplomatic relations were reopened after a 15-year gap – it is argued that Britain still has an important role to play in Libya’s future peace and stability.

Speaker: Rupert Wieloch is an independent author who writes about British history and international relations. In 2011, he was a member of the Middle East Peace Process working group on arms control, when he became involved in the UN authorised operation to protect civilians in Libya. He has now written a book about the long-standing Anglo-Libyan friendship that traces its roots to the 17th century.

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Title: ‘Shālla as a Site of Royal Presence: Constructing the Sultanic Image in Fourteenth-Century Morocco’ by Péter T Nagy

Date Delivered: Tuesday 22 February 2022

Description: The funerary complex located at the picturesque site of Shālla, Rabat, is generally known as the main burial ground of the Marīnid dynasty between 1284 and 1354, and thus construed as one of the main monuments from the period. This lecture traces the buildings’ development, presenting the results of an archaeological investigation, while also examining the patrons’ political motives.

It emerges that, by modifying and expanding the complex, the sultans were equally conscious of elevating their own image, on which the site’s operation and perception, as recorded by contemporary authors, shed ample light. The overarching argument highlights how the Marīnid sultans’ presence, whether physical or metaphorical, at Shālla contributed to its popularity at the time.

Speaker: Péter Nagy studied Arabic, Islamic art, and archaeology, and completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford (2021). His main interests include the architectural history of the Maghrib, on which he has published several articles; his doctoral thesis investigates the site of Shālla (Rabat) and its royal funerary complex. In addition, he also works on the European reception of Islamic architecture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Title: ‘Garamantian Pottery: Change and Exchange in an Inter-Regional Perspective’ by Maria Carmela Gatto

Date Delivered: Tuesday 25 January 2022

Description: This talk focuses on a lesser known aspect of Garamantian material culture: handmade pottery of local manufacture. It will consider the ceramic evidence from both the Wadi al-Ajal, the heartland of the Garamantes, where the University of Leicester extensively worked, and the Wadi Tanzzuft, where the Sapienza University of Rome worked in the same years as Leicester. The analysis assesses technological traits of the Garamantian pottery across a broad time span including the first millennia BC and AD. Chronological and spatial variations within Garamantian pottery, as well as comparisons with previous and contemporary ceramic productions from the same region and elsewhere across the Greater Sahara, are discussed in the attempt of tracking the timing and directionality of technological change and exchange and its social meaning.

Speaker: Maria Carmela Gatto is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. She is the PI of the BORDERSCAPE Project: “Egyptian state formation and the changing socio-spatial landscape of the First Nile Cataract region in the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE”, funded by the Polish National Research Centre, and the co-director of the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project in Egypt. For many years she has contributed to the investigation of Garamantian culture in the Libyan Sahara, first as a member of the Italian Mission of the Sapienza University of Rome in southwestern Fezzan and then as an ERC Research Associate for the Trans-SAHARA Project at the University of Leicester, directed by David Mattingly.

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: The Society Annual Lecture: ‘Always on the Edge? The Spaces of North African History’ by Prof. James McDougall

Date Delivered: Tuesday 14 December, 2021

Description: Mauretania Tingitana was the furthest southwest periphery of the Roman Mediterranean; jazirat al-maghrib was a ‘peninsula’ connecting Egypt to al-Andalus; the Sahara was ‘the second face of the Mediterranean’, with North Africa as a corridor between the seas of water and sand through which successive ‘waves’ of colonisers simply passed. For much of its past, especially as outsiders have seen it, North Africa’s place in the world and in world history has been marginal by definition. Alternatively, seen as an ‘edge’, a ‘junction’, a ‘crossroads’ or a ‘hinge’ – between the Arab world and Africa, Africa and Europe, ‘Europe’ and ‘Islam’ – the Maghrib has been seen as a central articulating point, geopolitically and intellectually situated on the fault-lines of civilisations from the Habsburgs and the Ottomans through to Frontex and Daesh. Thinking through and beyond these tropes, how might a spatial history of North Africa look, and how might it help us see the region as the centre-point of its own past?

Speaker: Professor James McDougall is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Trinity College Oxford.

His research addresses several related thematic and geographical fields, mainly in the period since c. 1700: the modern and contemporary Mediterranean; Middle Eastern, African and Islamic history, especially Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, but also the history of European imperialism in the Arab world, modern Arab intellectual and political history, and the global history of Islam since c.1700; the French colonial empire in Africa; the Sahara; nationalism and revolutionary movements in Asia and Africa; comparative imperial history; historiography and critical theory.

His research interests are in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African, and modern Islamic history, especially modern and contemporary North Africa; and modern France and the French colonial empire (18th-20th cents.). His first work focused on the intersection of Islamic modernism and nationalist politics in colonial Algeria, and he continues to work on colonial and contemporary North African, and especially Algerian, history and politics.

Prof McDougall also has a broader interest in the social, political, and intellectual history of the Arab world, and especially in Arabic/Islamic conceptions of history.

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Title: ‘Micro-regional Urbanism in Roman North Africa’ by Dr Paul Scheding

Date Delivered: Tuesday 9 November, 2021

Description: During the second century CE, North Africa experienced a significant economic growth. As a result, the African communities erected all kinds of monumental buildings in their cities and settlements. The local elites, who were responsible for enhancing cityscapes with monuments, were also deeply involved in agricultural production in the respective territories, although there was a considerable degree of variation in the conditions of land use, organization of production, and administration across North Africa. The question is: what was the impact of the “local ecosystems” on public benefactions and elite patronage? Furthermore, did architecture and urbanism reflect the needs of the local elites? What were the main factors that influenced the conception of architecture and urbanism in a particular region? The focus of this talk is on the large number of small cities in the hinterland of Roman Carthage and their relationship to different estates. Using the example of Carthage’s pertica and the “boom” of the late second century CE, the paper will discuss how agricultural organization and socio-economic development influenced cityscapes in this micro-region.

Speaker: Dr Paul Scheding is assistant professor at the Department of Classical Archaeology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. He has undertaken extensive field research and fieldwork in Tunisia for more than ten years, particularly at Simitthus (Chemtou) and Meninx (Djerba). He is currently carrying out an excavation project at Terracina, south of Rome, to investigate the local monuments’ Hellenistic features. An expert of ancient urbanism, micro-urbanism, and architecture, he has published a range of papers on these topics and a monograph on “Urbaner Ballungsraum im römischen Nordafrika” (Reichert Verlag, 2019).


Title: ‘The Ottoman-Italian War of 1911-12: Conflict and Consequences’ by Prof Benjamin C. Fortna (University of Arizona).

Date Delivered: Tuesday 26 October 2021

Description: Reflecting on the Ottoman-Italian War in North Africa of 1911-12 in light of its consequences for the Ottoman Empire and the wider Islamic world. Although the Ottomans had to abandon the fight against the Italians due to the Balkan Wars, the “Trablusgarb War” had consequences that reached well beyond the relatively short duration of the conflict.

Speaker: Benjamin C. Fortna is Professor and Director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona and formerly Professor of the History of the Middle East, SOAS, University of London. His research focuses on the history of the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic. His publications include The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2016), Childhood in the Late Ottoman Empire and After, ed. (Brill, 2016), Learning to Read in the Late Ottoman Empire and the Early Turkish Republic (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and Imperial Classroom: Islam, Education and the State in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Jointly hosted with the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA)

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Title: ‘Late Ottoman Period Libya in the Age of Reforms (1835-1912)’ by Dr Odile Moreau (Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier III)

Date Delivered: Thursday 30 September, 2021

Description: Shedding light on the interrelationships between the provinces that today constitute ‘Libya’ and the Ottoman Empire, as they developed during the late Ottoman period, in the Age of Reforms, after the promotion of the Tanzîmât, from 1835 to 1912. Particular attention is paid to the reframing and the evolution of Ottoman – ‘Libyan’ relationships and interactions at the time of the ‘Question d’Orient’ (The Eastern Question).

Speaker: Dr. Odile Moreau is a lecturer at Paul-Valéry University, Montpellier III. A Turkish speaker, she has devoted much of her career to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. She has notably published The Ottoman Empire in the Age of Reforms, 1826-1914 (Paris-Istanbul, IFEA-Maisonneuve & Larose, collection: Past ottoman, Present turk, 2007, translated into Turkish).

Jointly hosted with the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA)

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Title: ‘The Little Ice Age in the Southeast Mediterranean and Southern Southwest Asia’ by Prof Chris O. Hunt

Date Delivered: Tuesday 8 June, 2021

Description: Climatic changes during the Little Ice Age in Northern Libya, Tunisia, Southern Jordan and the Persian Gulf led to severe drought across the region with approximately halving of rainfall, especially during the 17th Century AD, although rainfall stayed low until the 19th Century.  The droughts seem to have been sufficient to cause the collapse of ancient floodwater-farming systems in Tripolitania and the resulting food shortages led to cannibalism in Benghazi and some other Libyan cities. Malnourished refugees hid in caves in the Cyrenaican countryside, leading to a distinctive archaeology. Rare catastrophic rainfall was associated with the general drought, causing enormous but short-lived floods across the region.

Speaker: Chris O. Hunt FGS FRGS FSA is Professor of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. He is a Geoarchaeologist and Archaeopalynologist who has specialised in human-environment relationships over a 40-year career, during which he has done research in many countries around the Mediterranean, in the tropics and temperate zone.

He first worked in Libya as part of the UNESCO Libyan Valleys Survey, and has worked with Graeme Barker and Tim Reynolds on the Haua Fteah and its landscape in NE Libya since 2006 and at Shanidar Cave in Iraq since 2014. He was a Committee member of the Society for Libyan Studies (2009-2011). He was an editor of Journal of Micropalaeontology and Journal of Archaeological Science before starting Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports with Andy Howard in 2015.

In a peripatetic academic career, Chris first taught at Sheffield University, then had spells at CCAT in Cambridge, Royal Holloway, University of Huddersfield and Queens University Belfast before his current post as Head of Geography at Liverpool John Moores University. He has been visiting lecturer at the universities of Bucharest, Addis Ababa and Malta.

Chris has published five monographs and 239 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, including 20 articles in the Libyan Studies journal. A recent jointly-authored monograph is on ancient Maltese environments and human impacts (Temple Landscapes: Fragility, change and resilience of Holocene environments in the Maltese Islands. Cambridge, McDonald Institute Monographs. 569pp.

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Title: ‘Resilient Past Water Management in the Near East and North Africa’ by Dr Louise Rayne

Date Delivered: Tuesday 11 May 2021.

Description: Dr Louise Rayne explores the past development of water management in the context of future sustainability. She will discuss oasis case studies from Morocco, Libya and Iraq. Oases are environments created as a result of long-term, human-environment interactions but are vulnerable to human adaptability to changes (environmental, social, political). Although traditional methods of irrigation have been seen as sustainable, archaeological evidence for this is needed. Dr Rayne is following an interdisciplinary methodology using satellite imagery, archived data and fieldwork to map the traces of past water management features. She is collaborating with scholars Dr Lamin Abdulaati, Dr Muftah AlHaddad (Libya) and Dr Jaafar Jotheri (Iraq) on case studies funded by the Society for Libyan Studies (SLS) and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI).

Speaker: Dr Louise Rayne is a Research Fellow at the School of History, Classics & Archaeology at Newcastle University. She gained her PhD in Geography and Archaeology from Durham University, in 2015. Before starting her NUAcT fellowship she worked for the Endangered Archaeology project at the University of Leicester (2015-2020) using satellite imagery to monitor archaeological sites in the Middle East and North Africa. While doing this work, she realised that the remains of ancient irrigation are fast being destroyed by modern agriculture and that they urgently need recording before their potential for informing future resilience is lost. Therefore, for her fellowship she is now researching the development of water management in oases in the Sahara and investigating how this could inform future sustainability.

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Title: From Ohio to Cyrenaica: Libyan Archaeological Heritage Matters – A General Account of Recent Archaeological Activities of a Libyan Archaeologist by Dr Ahmad Emrage

Date Delivered: Tuesday 6 April, 2021

Description: This talk outlines the academic and field archaeological activities that Libyan archaeologist Dr Ahmad Emrage of Benghazi University has conducted since September 2019 until the present time. This includes a summary of his experience as a Fulbright visitor professor to the USA, where he taught two semesters on Libyan archaeological heritage to students of Oberlin College in Ohio.  This lecture also incorporates a general account of the archaeological works, including excavations, surveys and awareness programmes that Dr Emrage supervised and participated in, at different locations in Cyrenaica, in cooperation with national, British and American institutions from October 2020 until now.

Speaker: Dr Ahmad S M Emrage is an Assistant Professor at the University of Benghazi’s Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts. He holds a BA and an MA in Archaeology from University of Benghazi. In 2014, he completed a PhD at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester.

In addition to his work with the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East & North Africa (EAMENA) project, Emrage has been a team member of another CPF project ‘Training in Action.’ In August 2019, Ahmad was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach two courses about Libyan cultural heritage at Oberlin College, Ohio.

Ahmad has extensive experience in field archaeological survey and excavation. He has participated in and directed a number of excavations in Libya, such as the training excavations of the University of Benghazi in Tocra, the final seasons of Cambridge University’s excavations in the prehistoric cave of Haua Fteah and the training excavations of the University of Muhammad bin Ali Al-Sanousi at Cyrene. He is interested in landscape archaeology and rural Roman sites in Libya.

In recent years, Ahmad has been focusing on the protection of Libyan cultural heritage through teaching, and inviting colleagues from the Department of Antiquities to teach archaeology students on how to document, evaluate, monitor and protect archaeological sites and artifacts through the use of modern techniques.

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Title: ‘The Djbel Bani Archaeology Project (Morocco): Current Research and Future Prospects’ by Youssef Bokbot & Sam Nixon

Date Delivered: Friday 19 March 2021.

Description: This presentation provides a summary account of current work being undertaken within the Djbel Bani Archaeology Project, a collaborative project in the Moroccan pre-Sahara led by a Moroccan-British team.

The project features multiple strands of research, including investigating the evolution and nature of early pre-Saharan oases, networks of trade and metallurgical production, and regional and trans-regional migration.

A key focus of the project research presented here is work at the urban ruins and metalworking complex of Tamdult, recorded within Arabic sources from the 9th century AD as a fortified town in proximity to a silver mine. A further key strand of the project presented is an overview of the varied prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology within the regional landscape, including a range of funerary monuments and other large-scale monumental remains. Also presented is the project’s developing work collaborating on a range of cultural heritage initiatives linked to the archaeology being investigated.

The research presented here has been funded and supported by the Max Van Berchem Foundation, the Society of Libyan Studies, the British Institute in Eastern Africa, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, and the Governor’s Office, Tata Region.

Speakers: Dr Sam Nixon
Curator and Head of the Africa Section at the British Museum

Sam Nixon is a Curator and Head of the Africa Section, in the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the British Museum, London, UK. He is also a Research Associate at the University of East Anglia. Previously he held research positions at the University of East Anglia and UCL, including as an ERC Postdoctoral Researcher and as a Wenner-Gren Fellow. His research focuses on the medieval and early modern period in West Africa and the Sahara, including a distinct focus on trade and exchange networks. In addition to his collaboration on the Djbel Bani Archaeological Project, his prior archaeological research has included work on projects in Mali and the Republic of Benin.

Professor Youssef Bokbot
Department of Prehistory at the 
National Institute for Archaeological Sciences and Heritage

Youssef Bokbot is a Professor in the Department of Prehistory at the National Institute for Archaeological Sciences and Heritage, Morocco (Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine: INSAP). His research focuses on the prehistory and protohistory of the Maghreb and the Sahara, with research interests including funerary, settlement, and landscape archaeology. He has initiated, led and collaborated on a number of archaeological research projects in a wide range of regions throughout Morocco. In addition to his work on the Djbel Bani Archaeological Project, his current research projects include a collaboration on The Middle Draa Project together with British archaeologists.

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Title: ‘National Belonging and Everyday Nationhood in the Age of Globalization: An Account of Global Flows in 21st Century Libya’, by Alice Alunni

Date Delivered: Tuesday 09 February 2021.

Description: This talk presents a study that explores the relation between national belonging, everyday nationhood and globalization in Libya. By combining Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper’s relational and processual approach to the study of nationalism with Arjun Appadurai’s framework of ‘global cultural flows’, it aims to understand the role of globalization in shaping everyday practices of nationhood and the individual’s sense of belonging to a nation in relation to nationalism as a political ideology and everyday phenomenon.

The main focus of the study is on the change unleashed by the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) revolution from the 1990s onwards, and how this and the flows of Libyan people in and out the country affected the way the political elite, civil society and diaspora imagined the nation in the twenty-first century, before and in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution

Speaker: Alice Alunni is an independent researcher and development consultant. Alice holds a Ph.D. in Government and International Affairs from Durham University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She advises governments, NGOs, private sector and research institutes on peace and security in the MENA and Gulf regions, and particularly in Libya. Her expertise includes peacebuilding, political transitions, civil society and diaspora with a focus on participatory approaches to research and programming.

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Title: ‘Lepcis Magna, the City of White Stone: Shaping and Perceiving Ancient Urban Spaces’ by Niccolò Mugnai

Date Delivered: Tuesday 19 January 2021.

Description: Lepcis Magna (Leptis Magna) is well known for the magnificence of its ancient monuments. While past studies engaged at length with the Severan building projects, recent research is now focusing on the earlier phases. This presentation looks at the visibility of Lepcis’ public edifices and how people in antiquity approached, lived, and experienced them, as the cityscape evolved from Augustus to the Antonines. Attention is paid to the role of private and public patronage, highlighting how social status was showcased through the buildings’ layout and their architectural, sculptural, and epigraphic apparatuses.

Speaker: Niccolò Mugnai is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford, and a Research Member of Common Room at Wolfson College (2020-23). Prior to this appointment, he held a Rome Fellowship and a Residential Research Fellowship at the British School at Rome (2017-19) and an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship at the University of Leicester (2016), where he undertook his doctoral studies (2011-16). His principal research interests encompass the archaeology and history of North Africa, Greco-Roman architecture, architectural ornament and urbanism, Mediterranean civilizations and material culture.  Niccolò is Assistant Director of the Society for Libyan Studies.

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Title: ‘Desert Landmarks? Rethinking State and Society in the Ancient Sahara’ by David Mattingly

Date Delivered: Thursday 3 December 2020.

Description: This lecture, delivered as part of the Society’s first virtual annual address, celebrates the completion of publication of the four volumes of the Trans-Saharan Archaeology series, published jointly by the Society for Libyan Studies and Cambridge University Press.

Speaker: David Mattingly is an archaeologist and historian of the Roman world. He is currently Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Leicester. Following his BA in History at the University of Manchester, David completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Barri Jones. He was a British Academy Post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford (1986-1989), then Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, before coming to Leicester in December 1991 as a Lecturer. Promoted to Reader (1995) and Professor (1998), Prof Mattingly held a British Academy Research Readership award from 1999-2001, was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2003 and Member of the Academia Europaea in 2013. He was Director of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law (2009-2012) and held a major research grant from the European Research Council (2011-2017) for the Trans-Sahara Project.

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