Islamic Archaeology and World Heritage in Cairo

November 23, 2016
7:45 pm-9:45 pm | London

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

A lecture by Stéphane Pradines (AKU - ISMC) on the medieval walls of Cairo highlighting the collaboration between the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology, the Ministry of Egyptian Antiquities and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The discussion panel will include Anna Contadini (SOAS), Christophe Bouleau (AKTC) and Ahmed Al-Shoky, General Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo. 

The event will be opened by H.E Mme Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom and H.E Mr Nasser Ahmed Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Kingdom.

The lecture is in partnership with the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni and the Ismaili Centre.


The creation of the 30-hectare Al-Azhar Park, undertaken in the historic district of Cairo by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, has become a catalyst for urban renewal in one of the most congested cities in the world.

A gift to the city of Cairo by His H​ighness the Aga Khan, the project includes the excavation and extensive restoration of the 12th Century Ayyubid wall and the rehabilitation of important monuments and landmark buildings in the Historic City.

The lecture will shed light on the findings of the archaeological mission in Cairo including a Mamluk cemetery, a Fatimid garden and some objects from daily life including ceramics.

The ongoing work is supported by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology, the Ministry of Egyptian Antiquities, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and encompasses heritage conservation, an archaeological park and a field school for Egyptian students.


About the Speakers

Stéphane Pradines completed his PhD in Islamic Archaeology from Sorbonne University, Paris IV in 2001. He is an archaeologist specialising in the Middle East and East Africa. Prior to joining AKU-ISMC in 2012, Dr Pradines was in charge of Islamic Archaeology at the French Institute in Cairo from Sept. 2001 to Sept. 2012. He was also Lecturer in Islamic Archaeology at Cairo University and created later the First Field School of Islamic Archaeology in Egypt. Dr Pradines’ fieldwork includes the direction of Excavations of the Fatimid and Ayyubid Walls of Cairo, Excavations of Kilwa, Swahili medieval harbour of Tanzania and of Gedi, Swahili medieval harbour of Kenya and more recently Excavation of Dembeni (Mayotte, French Comoros). His publications include Fortifications et urbanisation en Afrique orientale, Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology, 2004 and Gedi, une cité portuaire swahilie. Islam médiéval en Afrique orientale Monograph of the French Institute of Archaeology, 2010.

Anna Contadini graduated in Arabic and Islamic Art at the Oriental Institute of Venice University with a thesis on miniature painting of the Mamluk period. She also has a great interest in music and has received a Diploma in piano as a soloist from the Conservatorio ‘Benedetto Marcello’ in Venice. Subsequently she completed her doctorate in Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of London University with a thesis on early Arab and Persian miniature painting. She was then appointed Baring Foundation Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where she was based in the Research Department. She conducted research on a range of objects drawn from the splendid Islamic collection of the Museum, but concentrated on the Fatimid material, on which she then wrote a book, published in 1998. From 1994-7 she was in Ireland, as Lecturer in Islamic Art at Trinity College Dublin, and Curator of the Islamic Collections of the Chester Beatty Library. Anna Contadini is now Professor in the History of Islamic Art.

Christophe Bouleau holds a graduate degree from the Department of Architecture in the Swiss Institute of Technology of Lausanne and has specialised in monument preservation at the Centre des Hautes Etudes de Chaillot in Paris. His career began in historic monuments preservation in France and Italy, and he has worked in archaeological and monument conservation projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, and Egypt. Since joining AKTC’s Historic Cities Programme in 2001, he has been stationed in Cairo in charge of the Darb al-Ahmar district monuments conservation program, and contributed to architectural documentation and conservation projects in Aleppo and Damascus, Syria. Since 2008, he has been based at AKTC headquarters in Geneva as a Conservation Project Officer, overseeing conservation and architectural programmes in West Africa (earthen architecture rehabilitation) and providing technical assistance to the wider Aga Khan Development Network’s conservation and adaptive re-use projects.

Ahmed Al-Shoky completed his PhD in Islamic Archeology from the Department of Islamic Archaeology, ‘Ayn Shams University, Cairo in 2009. He is the General Director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo since 2014, Assistant Professor for the Faculty of Arts at ‘Ayn Shams University, and Associate Researcher at the Institute Français d’Archéologie Orientale (IFAO).



To register your attendance, please click here.


The Ismaili Centre
1-7 Cromwell Gardens