Prof. Dr. Stefan Heidemann

Tel.: +49-(0)40-42838-3181
Fax: +49-(0)40-42838-5674
e-Mail: stefan.heidemann [at]

Tel.: +49-(0)40-42838-3180 (administrative assistant)

Over the past years I have become known as a historian of the Middle East who has an equal command of the study of literary and legal sources, material culture, numismatics, and archaeological evidence. I focus mainly on periods of transition and economic and cultural change in Islamic societies. Most prominent among my studies figure the formation of the early Islamic Empire, the apogee of the Abbasid Empire and the formation of the Middle Islamic civilization in the 12th and 13th centuries. I work with archaeological missions from Portugal to Mongolia, yet most of whom excavate in Syria.

Five major research projects emerged from this interest:

In addition, I pursue currently a number of specific interests, and projects, Seljuq figural stucco, the Abbasid invention of brass, Syriac and Arabic lead seals of the eleventh century, the development of metalwork and neo-Mamluk art in the nineteenth century and the use of medieval history in modern visual political discourse as specific form of cultural memory, and the history of Oriental studies.

The interest in material culture, as source for the societies creating it, lead me to be member of a number of collaborative research projects, and working groups, among them

In order to foster dissemination of knowledge in these fields I developed research-oriented classes in material culture as source for the societies creating it for Hamburg's students and those from other universities in the form of international webinars, and workshops for example in the US, Afghanistan (BACH) etc.

As a teacher in Islamic Studies, coming from modern development economics and working on Early and Middle Islamic civilizations, I offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses on language, religion, culture, history, and politics of the 19th and 20th centuries. An important aspect in all of my classes whether they are about the development of Islamic thought, law, cultural practice and institutions, is the understanding of their historical, geographical, and economic contextes.

Academic Positions

Oct. 2011 to date, Professor of Islamic Studies at Universität Hamburg.

Oct. 2010 to Sept. 2011, Professor of Islamic History and Artistic and Material Culture at The Bard Graduate Center, New York, Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Private Lecturer (Privatdozent) in Islamic Studies at Jena University.

Aug. 2009 to July 2010, Visiting Professor in Islamic Artistic and Material Culture, and Islamic Numismatics at The Bard Graduate Center, New York.

Oct. 2002 to Sept. 2010, Oberassistent (senior assistant professor) and Hochschuldozent (associate professor), Semitic Philology and Islamic Studies at Jena University.

Oct. 2001 to Sept. 2002, April to Sept. 2003, visiting full professor at the Orientinstitut, Leipzig University.

Oct. 2000 to Sept. 2001, Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (research assistant) at Jena University.

Oct. 1994 to Sept. 2000, Wissenschaftlicher Assistent (assistant professor) at Jena University.

Oct. 1994 to Sept. 2010, co-ordination of the Oriental Coin Cabinet Jena and theAlphons-Stübel Collection of Early Photographs from the Middle East at Jena University; since Oct. 2010 in an advisory function for both collections.

Education and Academic Degrees

2001. Habilitation (university lecturer's degree) in Islamic Studies at Jena University. Thesis: "Die Renaissance der Städte (The Renaissance of the Cities)" (see monographs).

1993. Dr. phil. (PhD), summa cum laude, Free University Berlin. Thesis: "Das Aleppiner Kalifat (The Caliphate of Aleppo) (A.D. 1261)" (see monographs).

1991. Magister Artium, Islamic Studies, Free University Berlin.

1982-1991. Study of Economics, Islamic Studies and Modern History in Regensburg, Damascus, Cairo, and Berlin.

Fellowships, Grants, Awards and Internships

April 2014-March 2019. ERC Advanced Grant: "The Early Islamic Empire at Work - The View from the Regions Toward the Center"

Oct. 2013-Feb. 2014. Research fellow at Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg "History and Society during the Mamluk Era (1250-1517)" at Bonn University.

Sept.-Oct. 2008. Robinson Fellow at Fitzwilliam Museum in association with Wolfson College, Cambridge, UK.

Sept. 2007-Feb. 2008: Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

Sept. 2006-Feb. 2007: Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, research group ‘Charity and Piety in the Middle Ages’.

2005. The Samir Shamma Prize for Islamic Numismatics awarded by the Royal Numismatic Society, London.

2004. Summer Fellowship at the Centre for Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks/Harvard University, Washington D.C.

2004-2008. Research grant awarded by German Research Foundation (DFG) 'Economic Dynamics in the Zangid and Ayyubid Period'.

1995. Fellowship awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service 'Arabic Papyri as Documents of Legal History', joint project of the Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, CNRS, Paris, and Institute for Islamic Studies, Free University Berlin.

1993-1994. Research fellowship awarded by German Research Foundation (DFG): 'Monetary Economy as Social System in Medieval Syria'.

1993. Graduate Summer Seminar at the American Numismatic Society, New York.

1989. Internship, German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Cairo.

1987. Internship, German-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Cairo.

1983-1993. Scholarship by Evangelisches Studienwerk (Protestant Study Foundation), Villigst, Germany.

Archaeological Fieldwork

Cooperation with following missions:

2011 to date. Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage (BACH), Afghanistan (Edmund Herzig, Oxford University, in Cooperation with the Délégation Archéologique en Afghanistan).

2011. Urbanism in Roman and Islamic Times: Resafa, Syria (Dorothée Sack, German Archaeological Institute, Technical University Berlin)

2005. Citadel of Masyaf, Syria (Haytham Hasan, Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées, Damascus).

2003. Citadel of Damascus, Syria (Sophie Berthier, Institut Français du Proche Orient, Damascus)

2001. 'Abbasid Industrial area in al-Raqqa, Syria (Julian Henderson, Nottingham University).

1999, 2003, 2009. Citadel of Aleppo, Syria ( Kay Kohlmeyer, HTW Berlin-Weißensee).

1991, 1993. Palace area of al-Raqqa, Syria (Michael Meinecke, Assur/Iraq and Tall al-Bi`a (both German Oriental Society), Jabal Usays and Bosra, (both German Archaeological Institute), Madinat al-Far (Fondation Max de Berchem), Tall Knedij ( Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin),  Cerro da Vila/Portugal and Kharab Sayyar (both Frankfurt University, Deutsche Orientgesellschaft), Hadir Qinnasrin (Université de Paris IV/Chicago University), Qara Qorum, Mongolia (Bonn University).