Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Islamwissenschaft und Nahostsprachen

M.A. Asienwissenschaften: Schwerpunkt Islamic Archaeology

M.A. Asian Studies: (Major) Islamic Archaeology

Islamic Archaeology is the study of the history of Islamic societies and those that have been under Muslim hegemony through handmade objects and traces of human activity in the physical environment. It is a multidisciplinary field of study that has numerous points of overlap with other areas of research, particularly traditional Middle Eastern studies, art history, historical geography, cultural anthropology, and social and environmental sciences. The new concentration forms a bridge in terms of content and methodology that connects these aforementioned fields with each other in the study of medieval Islamic society.

The archaeological laboratory, with its growing collection of ceramics and other Islamic archaeological artifacts, is the physical heart of the academic research program and makes the subject special for students at the University of Bonn by providing workstations for studying and working with the artifacts in addition to the well-stocked and diverse study collection. The uniqueness lies in the fact that the artifacts of the AIA research unit have been recently obtained from an excellent archaeological context, while most of the other university collections are often formed from artifacts acquired in the last century from the countries of origin. Jordan is one of the few countries in the world that continues to allow the export of artifacts by archaeologists who are trusted by the country. For this reason, students at the University of Bonn have the rare opportunity to gain experience from direct contact with artifacts in this program and not just study them from photographs, copies, or the like.

Overall, the teaching program stands for internationalization through collaboration with international partners and field projects abroad, applied interdisciplinarity through the methodological integration of neighbouring disciplines as well as natural sciences and economics, and new and diverse forms of teaching that focus on the combination of theory and practice. Moreover, this is the only teaching program of its kind in Germany; the only independent Islamic archaeological studies program that is not combined with Islamic art history. The program is in the tradition of regional studies and includes a specialized archaeological curriculum, although modules in art history may be taken as electives. This results in an attractive location for international students.

The goal of the M.A. concentration in Islamic Archaeology (AIA), after providing students with basic experience and knowledge of interdisciplinary research and academic writing, is to develop special skills such as object and spatial analysis, analysis of texts and artifacts, techniques of excavation and fieldwork, and preparation of individual research projects related to topics primarily associated with cultural, economic, and social history.

Accordingly, the program will provide students with qualifications and special expertise that go beyond the study of specialized literature and theory. Furthermore, students will not only have the opportunity to perfect their own English language skills during the program but will be able to participate in international excavations in Jordan and Israel under Prof. Walker's concession.

The Islamic Archaeology concentration is closely related to the Islamic Studies concentration of the M.A. Asian Studies and offers the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies with a focus on Islamic Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts.

The major of Islamic Archaeology includes 4 focus-specific compulsory modules of 4 SWS each and a total of 40 LP: "Introduction into Islamic Material Culture" (alternately as a webinar or as a face-to-face course), "Theory and Methods in Islamic Archaeology" (integration of laboratory work as part of the seminars), "Internship in Islamic Archaeology" (archaeological fieldwork, museum management), "Research Problems in Islamic Archaeology Today" (overarching research questions, transdisciplinarity). The introductory course is part of a four-part webinar series on Islamic material culture conducted in cooperation with the University of Hamburg as well as the University of Munich and New York University (USA). The compulsory course is complemented by the cross-focus modules of the M.A. Asian Studies "Research Propaedeutics" and "Colloquium". The former is partly carried out (2 SWS) by the major in Islamic Studies, the latter (also 2 SWS) by the major in "Islamic Archaeology". The colloquium is a two-semester seminar (3rd-4th semester), in which both the scientific discourse is practiced based on current research and lectures and there is also the opportunity to present one's own M.A. thesis topic. The compulsory area thus comprises a total of 60 LP.

Within the framework of the compulsory elective area (30 LP in total), students can choose from selected modules in the specializations of Islamic Studies, Turkish History and Society, and Mongolian Studies of the M.A. in Asian Studies, as well as basic language modules in Arabic, Turkish or Persian. In addition to Archaeology of the Americas & Quantitative Research Methods in Archaeology from the Institute for Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, as well as museum studies from the Art History Institute.

The admission requirements of the respective modules must be observed.

Students have one semester to write their thesis; the thesis itself comprises 30 LP.

The Islamic Archaeology concentration is characterized by a variety of teaching formats: traditional/classical seminars, laboratory work, internet seminars (webinars), and archaeological fieldwork (excavations and surveys). The program offers the opportunity to participate in archaeological projects in the Middle East, as well as to participate in a museum internship at the university site. Most courses take place on the premises and in the laboratory of the Islamic Archaeology Research Unit at Brühler Straße 7, 53119 Bonn, Germany.

To support the international character of the program, the language of instruction of the four focus-specific modules is English, The English level requested for international students is B2. For enrollment, there is no requirement for German language proficiency.

Examinations include written examinations, presentations, and written assignments.

Numerous career fields are open to graduates, such as:

  • Science, public education
  • Museum work
  • Jobs in historic preservation (e.g., cultural resource management) and full-time archaeology (field research)
  • Activities in research funding and fundraising 
  • Cultural officer in the diplomatic corps

For more information please check the Islamic Archaeology webpage here .

Applications for the study program are possible for the winter semester. Please refer to the university's website to find out whether a degree program is currently subject to admission restrictions.

Here you will also find further information, e.g. on application deadlines and enrolment.


Module Guide (currently only German version available)
Study plan (currently only German version available)
For illustrative purposes (other subject!)
Infoflyer (recommended to read)

Subject Study advisor

Prof. Dr. Bethany J. Walker

Department of Islamic Studies | Research Unit Islamic Archaeology, 2nd floor

Brühler Str. 7

53119 Bonn

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