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Professor Marcus Milwright
British Academy Global Professor



MA (Edinburgh), DPhil (Oxford), FRAS

Marcus Milwright is British Academy Global Professor in History of Art, and a member of the Centre for Medieval Studies.

He is also Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies, University of Victoria, Canada (on leave: 2023–2027).

His research interests include the art and archaeology of the Islamic Middle East, labour and craft practices in the urban environment, cross-cultural contacts in the Medieval Mediterranean, the representation of Muslim rulers in early Modern books, the history of medicine, and the architecture and civil engineering of southern Greece in the Ottoman periods. He is involved in archaeological and architectural projects in Jordan, Syria and Greece. His books include: The Queen of Sheba’s Gift: A History of the True Balsam of Matarea (2021); Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology (2017); The Dome of the Rock and its Umayyad Mosaic Inscriptions (2016); and An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (2010).  

His current research examines phases of rapid technological and aesthetic change in Islamic art, looking at the role of external challenges – political, economic, and religious – in reshaping the ways in which objects were designed and manufactured. The case studies will address issues including the interaction between Late Antiquity and early Islam, the relocation of artisans to industrial zones connected with new Islamic cities, and impact of industrialization on manual craft sectors. The project builds on craft-based research conducted at the University of Victoria, Canada, including the Crafts of Syria and Crafts of Iraq websites ( and ).



His current research is focused on the traditional crafts of the Islamic Middle East. Employing primary written sources, archaeological data, extant objects and buildings, inscriptions, and representations of manufacturing processes, his work reconstructs the technological, economic, social, and cultural contexts of the crafts from the seventh to the early twentieth centuries. He will be publishing the ceramics excavated from early Islamic workshops in the Syrian city of Raqqa. He is involved in the analysis of Mamluk Revival metalwork produced in the Middle East from the second half of the nineteenth century and is working with Hala Qasqas on the translation of an Arabic dictionary of the crafts of Damascus, compiled between about 1890 and the early years of the twentieth century.

His other research interests include the contextual analysis of early Islamic inscriptions, the built environment of southern Greece in the Ottoman period, and the representation of architectural space in early Islamic visual culture. He shares his work in print publications, as well as websites and podcasts:


  • 2022. British Academy Global Professor (2023-2027).
  • 2020. Award to Scholarly Publications Program, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Canada (joint application with McGill/Queens University Press).
  • 2018. SSHRC Internal Research and Creative Practice Grant (University of Victoria).
  • 2016. SSHRC Internal Research and Creative Practice Grant (University of Victoria).
  • 2015. Visiting Professor. Negotiating Identities: NEH Summer Institute for College and University Professors, Barcelona.
  • 2013. Craigdarroch Silver Medal for Excellence in Research, University of Victoria.
  • 2013. Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Tourism and Archaeology, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • 2012. Researcher in Residence at Shangri La (Doris Duke Foundation), Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • 2010–13. Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Canada. Standard Research Grant.
  • 2006. Aga Khan Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Islamic Architecture (Harvard).
  • 2006. Aga Khan Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Islamic Architecture (MIT).
  • 2002. Reckitt Travelling Research Fellowship in Archaeology (British Academy)
  • 2000. Frances A. Yates Fellowship (Warburg Institute).
  • 1999–2000. Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship (London).


In progress

  • Ambreen Husseini, The Art of Qur’anic Calligraphy and Material Culture: Investigating the Use of Qur’anic text in Modern and Contemporary Pakistan.
  • Hala Qasqas, Coffee and Coffeehouses: A Study of the Culture of Recreation in Damascus in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
  • Zahra Karamad, Hybridity in Twentieth-Century Iranian Architecture: the Qur’an Gate, Shiraz.


  • Seyedhamed Yeganehfarzand, From Da’wa to State: Castles and the Formation of Nizari Isma’ili State in Quhistan, Iran (2022).
  • Zahra Kazani, Thinking in Lines and Circles: Geometric Script Patterns and the Visualization of Knowledge in Medieval Islamicate Societies (1100-1250 AD) (2022).
  • Munazzah Akhtar, Interrogating the Dead: Re-assessing the Cultural Identities of the Samma Dynasty (1351-1522) at the Necropolis of Makli, Sindh (Pakistan) (2020).
  • Atri Hatef Naiemi, A Dialogue between Friends and Foes: Transcultural Interactions in Ilkhanid Capital Cities (1256-1335 AD) (2019).
  • Mohammad Alsubaie, The Miqat of al-Juhfa: An Historical and Archaeological Study (2018).
  • Behrang Nabavinejad, The Simurgh: Representations and Meanings in Persian Painting (co-supervised with Professor Anthony Welch, University of Victoria) (2017).
  • Filiz Tütüncu, From Raqqa with Love: The Raqqa Excavations by the Imperial Ottoman Museum (1905-06 and 1908) (2017).
  • Azar Mirzaei, Persian Architecture and the Impact of Industrialization: The Case of Anarak Mine and the Town of Anarak, 1935-41 (2021).
  • Shiva Ebrahimi Fakhar, Reflective Translation in 19th-Century Iranian Palaces: Aine-kari in Shams ol-Emareh (2021).
  • Arash Eghbal Jahromi, Remediating Spaces: European lithographs on the Painted Ceiling of the “Private Room” in Qavam House (1879-86) (2020).
  • Anahita Ranjbar, An Investigation of the Impact of Cultural Exchanges on the Interior Design of Palaces During the Qajar Era in Iran (Case Studies: Golestan and Niavaran Complexes) (2020).
  • Alicia Hagy, The Edge of the West: The Jineta Sword of Muhammad XII and Elite Identity Construction in Muslim Granada (2017).
  • Fahimeh Ghorbani, Kasbnama-yi Bafandegi (Weaving Kasbnama): Doctrine of Jawanmardi and Artisanal Culture in Safavid, Iran (2016).
  • Atri Hatef Naiemi, Identification of Residential Compounds in the Central Desert of Iran (2014).
  • Seyedhamed Yeganehfarzand, Ismaili Castles in their Environmental Context (Case Study: Alamut Region) (2014).
  • Heather Crowley, Cairene Ceramics in Context: Exploring Intercultural Connections and Local Consumption with Shards from the Barqiya Quarter of Cairo (2010).
  • Robbyn Gordon, Inverting the Lens: Insider Photography by the Manaja’a Family, Humayma, Jordan (co-supervised with Dr Andrea Walsh, University of Victoria) (2010).
  • Bryn Dhamaratne, Trading Luxury: Kilwa, Qal’at al-Bahrain, Qsar es-Saghir and the Trade in Chinese Ceramics, 13th-16th Centuries (2010).
  • Alexander Townson, First Experiences of Mshatta (2007).
  • Michelle Smith, Early Islamic Metalwork in Jordan (2007).
  • Linda Zajac, Old Age and the Transmission of Knowledge in the 1334 Mamluk illustrated Manuscript of al-Hariri’s Maqamat (2007).
  • Dealla Fahlman, Reading the Chora: Movement and Meaning (2004).


Selected publications


Co-ed. (with Evanthia Baboula) and contrib., Made for the Eye of One Who Sees: Canadian Contributions to the Study of Islamic Art and Archaeology (McGill-Queen’s University Press and the Royal Ontario Museum, 2022).

The Queen of Sheba’s Gift: A History of the True Balsam of Matarea, Edinburgh Studies in Classical Islamic History and Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2021).

Middle Eastern Encounters: Collected Essays on visual, material, and textual Interactions between the eighth and the twenty-first Centuries, Islamic History and Thought 21 (Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press, 2020). 

The Arts and Crafts of Syria and Egypt from the Ayyubids to World War I: Collected Essays, Islamic History and Thought 7 (Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018).

Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

The Dome of the Rock and its Umayyad Mosaic Inscriptions, Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology, The New Edinburgh Islamic Surveys (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010). Outstanding Academic Title, 2011. Choice 49.5, January 2012.

The Fortress of the Raven: Karak in the Middle Islamic Period (1100–1600), Islamic History and Civilization. Studies and Texts 72 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2008).


‘The Destruction of Art,’ in Polemics. Challenges and Opportunities: Teaching, Studying, and Curating Islamic Art and Architecture in Canada, ed. Gül Kale. RACAR 47.1 (2022), pp. 86–89.

‘Reviving the Past and confronting the Present: Crafts in Syria and Egypt, c. 1875–1925,’ in Mariam Rosser-Owen, ed., special issue of the Journal of Modern Crafts 13.1 (2020), pp. 7–21.

‘The martyred Sultan: Tuman Bay II in André Thevet’s Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustrés (1584),’ Word & Image 33.1 (2017), pp. 1–17.

‘An Ayyubid in Mamluk Guise: The Portrait of Saladin in Paolo Giovio’s, Elogia virorum bellica virtute illustrium (1575),’ Mamluk Studies Review 18 (2014–15), pp. 187–217.–15_Milwright.pdf

‘Glass and Glassworking in Damascus during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries,’ Journal of Glass Studies 56 (2014), pp. 201–17.

Co-authored (with Evanthia Baboula), ‘Damascene “Trench Art”: A Note on Mamluk Revival Metalwork in early Twentieth-Century Syria,’ Levant 46.3 (2014), pp. 382–98.

‘Wood and Woodworking in Late Ottoman Damascus: An Analysis of the Qamus al-Sina‘at al-Shamiyya,’ Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales 61 (2012), pp. 547–68.

‘On the Date of Paul Kahle’s Egyptian Shadow Puppets,’ Muqarnas 28 (2011), pp. 43–68.

‘Imprisonment and Humiliation: A comparative Examination of the Representations of Saddam Hussein and Sultan Bayezid I,’ International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies 5.1 (2011), pp. 113–30.

Co-authored (with Evanthia Baboula), ‘Bayezid’s Cage: A Re-examination of a venerable academic Controversy,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, ser. 3, 21.3 (2011), pp. 239–60. 

‘Raqqa before “Raqqa Wares”: Toward a Typology of Ornament in the Ceramic Workshops of Early Abbasid Tal Aswad,’ al-Rafidan 32 (2011), pp. 232–45.

‘An Arabic Description of the Activities of Antiquities Dealers in Late Ottoman Damascus,’ Palestine Exploration Quarterly 143.1 (2011), pp. 8–18.

Rum, Sin and the Idea of the “Portrait” in Medieval Islamic Literary and Visual Culture,’ Journal of Modern Hellenism 28 Winter (2010–11), pp. 75–102.

‘Written Sources and the Study of Pottery in Ottoman Bilad al-Sham,’ al-Rafidan 30 (2009), pp. 37–52.

‘Imported Pottery in Ottoman Bilad al-Sham,’ Turcica 40 (2008 [2009]), pp. 121–52.

‘Turquoise and Black: Notes on an underglaze-painted Stonepaste Ware of the Mamluk Period,’ Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 140.3 (2008), pp. 123–34.

‘So despicable a Vessel: Representations of Tamerlane in printed Books of the sixteenth and seventeenth Centuries,’ Muqarnas, 23 (2006), pp. 317–44.

‘Southern and Central Jordan in the Ayyubid Period: Archaeological and historical Perspectives,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, ser. 3, 16.1 (2006), pp. 1–27.

‘Report of recent Excavations near the eastern Wall of ancient Rafiqa (Raqqa), Syria,’ Levant 37 (2005), pp. 198–219.

‘Modest Luxuries: Decorated Lead-glazed Pottery in the South of Bilad al-Sham (Thirteenth–Fourteenth Century),’ Muqarnas 20 (2003), pp. 85–111.

‘The Balsam of Matariyya: An Exploration of a Medieval Panacea,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 66, no.2 (2003), pp. 193–209.

‘Balsam in the Mediaeval Mediterranean: A Case Study of Information and Commodity Exchange,’ Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 14.1 (2001), pp.3–23.

‘Gazetteer of archaeological Sites in the Levant reporting Pottery of the Middle Islamic Period (ca. 1100–1600 C.E.),’ Islamic Art 5 (2001), pp. 3–39.

‘Prologues and Epilogues in Islamic Ceramics: Clays, Repairs and secondary Use,’ Medieval Ceramics 25 (2001), pp. 72–83.

‘Pottery of Bilad al-Sham in the Ottoman Period: A Review of the archaeological Evidence,’ Levant 32 (2000), pp.189–208.

‘Pottery in written Sources of the Ayyubid-Mamluk Period (c.567–923/1171–1517),’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62, no.3 (1999), pp. 504–518.

Book Chapters and Encyclopaedia Entries

‘The Manual Crafts and the Challenge of Modernity in late nineteenth-century Damascus,’ in Margaret Graves and Alex Dika Seggerman, eds, Making Modernity in the Islamic Mediterranean (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2022), pp. 139–54.

‘Qal‘at Marqab,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, part 2022–3 (2022), pp. 89–94.

‘Contextual Readings of religious Statements in early Islamic Inscriptions,’ in Mette Bjerregaard Mortensen, Guillaume Dye, Isaac Oliver, and Tommaso Tesei, eds, The study of Islamic Origins: New Perspectives and Contexts, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – Tension, Transmission, and Transformation 15 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021), pp. 275­–96.

‘An Inscribed Jug from Raqqa: Scripture and the Expression of Identity,’ in Melia Belli Bose, ed., Intersections: Visual Cultures of Islamic Cosmopolitanism, David A. Cofrin Asian Art Manuscript Series (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2021), pp. 22–39.

‘Rubbish, Recycling, and Repair: Perspectives on the Urban Crafts of the Islamic Middle East,’ in Robert Hillenbrand, ed., The Making of Islamic Art: Studies in Honour of Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021), pp. 138–55.

‘The Traditional Crafts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the Writings of European and North American Travellers,’ in Evanthia Baboula and Leslie Jessop, eds, Art and Material Culture in the Byzantine and Islamic Worlds: Essays in Honour of Erica Cruikshank Dodd, Mediterranean Art Histories: Studies in Visual Cultures and Artistic Transfers from Late Antiquity to the Modern Period 4 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2021), pp. 238-64.

‘Iraq: Art, Architecture, and Archaeology,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 4 (2021), pp. 53–65.

‘Greater Syria and Iraq (Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates), 661–1258,’ Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture. Twenty-first Edition, ed. Murray Fraser (London and New York: Royal Institute of British Architecture, University of London and Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2020), vol. 1, pp. 531–57.

‘Karak,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 5 (2018), pp. 138–43.

‘Hisn al-Akrad,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 4 (2017), pp. 65–70.

‘Samarra and ‘Abbasid Ornament,’ in G. Neçipoğlu and F. B. Flood, eds, The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, Blackwell Companions to Art History (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), I, pp. 177–96.

‘Fortress, in the Middle East,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 3 (2015), pp. 134–39.

‘Dome of the Rock,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 3 (2014), pp. 78–84.

‘Greater Syria: Islamic Archaeology,’ in Claire Smith, ed., Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (New York: Springer, 2014), vol. 5, pp. 3111–19.

‘Military Activity in Islamic Archaeology,’ in Claire Smith, ed., Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (New York: Springer, 2014), vol. 7, pp. 4931–39.

‘Trade and the Syrian Hajj between the 12th and the early 20th Centuries: Historical and archaeological Perspectives,’ in V. Porter and L. Saif, eds, The Hajj: Collected Essays, Research Publications 193 (London: British Museum Press, 2013), pp. 28–35.

‘Metalworking in Damascus at the End of the Ottoman Period: An Analysis of the Qamus al-Sina‘at al-Shamiyya,’ in: V. Porter and M. Rosser-Owen, eds, Metalwork and Material Culture in the Islamic World: Art, Crafts and Text. Essays presented to James W. Allan (London: I B Tauris, 2012), pp. 265–80.

‘Doris Duke and the Crafts of Islamic Syria,’ Shangri La Scholars’ Working Papers in Islamic Art 2 (July 2012), pp. 1–20.

‘Archaeology and Material Culture,’ in Chase Robinson, ed., The New Cambridge History of Islam. Volume 1: The Formation of the Islamic World, Sixth to Eleventh Centuries (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 664–82.

‘Islamic Art and Architecture,’ in Robert Irwin, ed., The New Cambridge History of Islam. Volume 4: Islamic Cultures and Societies to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 682–742.

‘The Pottery of Ayyubid Jerusalem,’ in Robert Hillenbrand and Sylvia Auld, eds, Ayyubid Jerusalem: The Holy City in Context, 1187–1250 (London: Altajir Trust, 2009), pp. 408–17.

Co-authored (with Evanthia Baboula), ‘Water on the Ground: Water Systems in two Ottoman Greek Port Cities,’ in Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, eds, Rivers of Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 213–38.

‘Aqsa Mosque in art and architecture,’ Encyclopaedia of Islam. Third Edition, vol. 1 (2007), pp. 136–37.

‘Reynald of Châtillon and Red Sea Expedition of 1182–1183,’ in: Maya Yazigi and Niall Christie, eds, Noble Ideals and Bloody Realities: Warfare in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 230–55.

‘“Waves of the Sea”: Responses to Marble in written Sources (9th–15th Century),’ in Bernard O’Kane, ed., The Iconography of Islamic Art. Studies in Honour of Professor Robert Hillenbrand (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 211–21.

‘Fixtures and Fittings: The Role of Decoration in Abbasid Palace Design,’ in Chase Robinson, ed., A Medieval Islamic City reconsidered: An interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art 14 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 79–109.


Crafts of Iraq:

Crafts of Syria:

Talking about Art:

Selected online presentations

2021. Book launch for The Queen of Sheba’s Gift: A History of the True Balsam of Matarea (Edinburgh University Press, 2021). Royal Asiatic Society and the Islamic Art Circle (School of Oriental and African Studies).

2021. Two Sides of the same Coin: Is there a Difference between Islamic Art and Craft? Webinar discussion with Fahmida Suleman. Crafting Conversations 4. Royal Ontario Museum and the Institute for Islamic Studies, University of Toronto. 

2012. Scholar Favorites (Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Architecture, Shangri La, Honolulu).



  • Islamic art and archaeology
  • Artistic methods and materials
  • Destruction of art

Other teaching


  • Islamic art and archaeology
  • Orientalism

External activities



  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (2011–).
  • Committee for British Research in the Levant (1998–2001)
  • Universities Art Association of Canada (2003–2006)
  • Canadian Archaeological Institute in Athens (2003–2004)
  • Canadian Society of Byzantinists (2003–2006)
  • American Oriental Society (2006–2008)
  • Middle East Studies Association (2010–12)
  • Historians of Islamic Art (2012–20)
  • Canadian Society of Medievalists (2017–20)


  • Co-editor (with Mariam Rosser-Owen, Margaret Graves and Sandra Aube) of Arts and Archaeology of the Islamic World, book series for Brill (2012–).
  • Editorial board of International Journal of Islamic Architecture (2020–).
  • Editorial board of Material Cultures in the Muslim World (2019–).
  • Editorial board of Classical Islamic Texts, book series for Gorgias Press and the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (2018–).
  • Advisory board of the book series Islamic History and Thought for Gorgias Press (2015–).
  • Advisory board of Muqarnas (2013–).
  • Advisory board of the Mediterranean Seminar (2015–).
  • Selection committee for Killam Research Fellowship and Killam Prize (2014–17)
  • Grabar Grants and Fellowships. Historians of Islamic Art, USA (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Chair of Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize in Islamic Art and Culture. Historians of Islamic Art, USA (2014–15, 2015–16).
  • Organizing committee for the Medieval Academy of America conference (2007–2008)
Marcus Milwright

Contact details

Professor Marcus Milwright
Department of History of Art

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