Stephane Pradines


Telephone: 44 207 3803866



2001- Ph.D. in Islamic Archaeology, Sorbonne University, Paris IV
“Swahili Fortifications and Urbanisation” (Director Late Prf. Marianne Barrucand)
1995 - M.Phil. in African History, Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris I
1995 - International Certificate in African Archaeology, Universite Libre de Bruxelles
1994 - MA in Arts and African Archaeology, Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris I
MA title: “Mosques in East Africa”
1993 - BA in Arts and Archaeology, Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris I

Current areas of teaching

• Art and Architecture of Muslim Cultures
• Muslim Architecture in Cairo
• Defending Muslim Empires: Castles and Citadels
• Muslim Cultures of the Indian Ocean
• Muslim Arts in the Contemporary Period
• Muslim Archaeology
• Archaeology in Africa
• Swahili Coast
• Indian Ocean Trade
• Urban Archaeology in Muslim Context
• Maritime Trade and Ceramics
• Muslim Cultures of the Indian Ocean
• Muslim Fortifications and Military Architecture
• Muslim Arms and Armor in Africa
• Engineering and Technology of Warfare
• Art and Architecture of Cairo, a Muslim Metropolis
• Muslim Arts and Architecture in the Contemporary Period

Research interests

Professor Stephane Pradines works on two main themes:

• Trade and Muslim cultures in the Indian Ocean
• Muslim warfare in Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa



2017: UNESCO International expert on the coral stone mosques with a purpose of adding these monuments to the World Heritage List.
2017: UNESCO/UCL international expert workshop on the serial nomination of the Maritime Silk Routes Heritage (London).
2016 - to date: Member of the Academic Council of the History of Fortification Study Centre, Moscow.
2015 - to date: Member of the Editorial Board, "Islamic Archaeological Studies", Journal of the Islamic Art Museum, Cairo.
2014 - to date: Book review editor and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Islamic Archaeology (Equinox) (
2014 - to date: Member of the Editorial Board of the Mélanges de l’Institut Dominicain (MIDEO), Cairo.
2008 - 2012: Archaeologist at the IFAO, French Institute of Archaeology, Cairo Expat. Contract.
2008 - 2011: Member of Steering Committee of the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale
2007 - 2008: Member of Scientific Committee of the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale
2005 - 2007: Archaeologist at the IFAO, French Institute of Archaeology, Cairo Local Contract.
2005 - 2003: UNESCO expert for Kilwa Project.
2005 - 2001: Scientific Member at the IFAO, French Institute of Archaeology, Cairo 4 years Post-doc.
2001 - to date: Associate Researcher, CNRS - UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée, Islam Médiéval, Paris (APIM program, Atlas of Medieval ports).
2001 - to date: Associate Researcher, Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale (IFAO), Cairo.
1998 - 2000: Admin and Scientific Assistant, Société des Africanistes, Musée de l’Homme, Paris.
1998: Member of Steering Committee of the Société des Africanistes .
1997 - 1998: Webmaster & Manager of the database of the collections, Department of Sub-Saharan Africa, Laboratoire d’Ethnologie, Musée de l’Homme, Paris.
1996 - 1997: National Service, Webmaster and Assistant for the collections, Photothèque du Musée de l’Homme, Paris.

Project Director Experience:

Dr. Stephane Pradines raised over 1 million dollars for research and fieldwork between 1998 and 2018.

• Egypt and the Middle-East
2000 - 2016: Director of Excavations of the Walls of Cairo, Egypt.

• Indian Ocean and Sub-Saharan Africa
2018 - on-going: Co-Director with Pierre Blanchard (WMF), Kua (Mafia Island), Tanzania.
2017 - on-going: Director of Excavations in Fenfushi and Hulumeedhoo mosques, Maldives.
2011 - 2015: Director of Excavations in Dembéni, Mayotte, French Comoros.
2009: Surveys in Mayotte, French Comoros.
2008: Co-Director with F.-X. Fauvelle and B. Hirsch of excavations in Nora, Ethiopia.
2004 - 2006: Director of Excavations of Kilwa, Tanzania.
1999 - 2003: Director of Excavations of Gedi, Kenya.
1998: Surveys in Northern Kenya and Lamu Archipelago.
1993: Surveys of the Megaliths in the districts of Fatick and Kaymor, Senegal.
Current researches in Cairo, Egypt
Walls of Cairo
Author/Editor : Stephane Pradines
Co-editors: Several scholars are associated to this project such as Professor Johannes van den Heijer (Catholic University of Louvain) for the Fatimid inscriptions; Professor Frederic Bauden (Liège University) for the study of the Mamluk coins and Mamluk funerary inscriptions and Dr. Tanja Tolar Senior Teaching Fellow SOAS and Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert for the glass material study abd Julie Monchamp for the ceramics.

Four books are planned. The first volume was just published this year: Julie Monchamp, Céramiques des Murailles du Caire (fin Xe - début XVIe siècle), IFAO, 2018, 648 p. The second volume will be on The Fatimid Walls (vol 2), the third volume on The Ayyubid Fortifications (vol. 3) and the last volume will be on the Excavations in the Mamluk City (co-edited with Maia Matkowski (vol. 4).
Ports and Forts in the Islamic World, Coastal military architecture

Editor: Stephane Pradines
Outline: Following the 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul (10-14 September 2014), Stephane Pradines is preparing the proceedings of the International panel. This edited volume will be published by the IFAO. This panel was supported by a research program sof the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo and entitled ‘Forts and Ports of Medieval & Modern Egypt’. With ten contributions, the manuscript was given and accepted for publication in October 2017.
Black Death Project: Rewriting Plague’s Second Pandemic

Director: Hendrik Poinar, Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University, Ontario.
Research participant (for Egypt): Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC).

Outline: One of the main projects in Professor Pradines’ post-excavations is the collaboration with Professor Hendrik Poinar on the plague epidemic in Medieval Egypt. From 2001 to 2009, on the site of Darrasa, Pradines and his team excavated a Mamluk cemetery. It’s the largest Mamluk cemetery excavated so far and the only cemetery excavated in historic Cairo. During our excavations we uncovered a large number of mass graves, indicating that groups of people have been buried in the same pit very quickly. These graves are often associated with lime and black deposits that can be the remains of oil “naphatun” used to burn the infected bodies. These archaeological discoveries connected to historical sources such as Ibn Iyas and Makrizi allow us to think that these graves are the evidence of the great plague epidemic during the 14th and 15th century in Egypt. Historical plagues have become a dynamic focus for new cross-disciplinary research. In order to challenge the predominant claims on the long history of plague’s Second Pandemic (the Black Death and its recurrent waves, from ca.1340s to ca.1840s), four regions fit our needs namely: (1) Western Alps; (2) Anatolia and the Balkans; (3) Egypt; and (4) Cyprus. The data collected from these locations will help clarify where plague reservoirs of the Mediterranean world were located, what mechanisms drove the persistence of plague in those reservoirs, and how they were connected to urban outbreaks. Professor Hendrik Poinar is the first comprehensive research project that shifts the focus from Europe to the Muslim world during the Second Pandemic.
Virtual Fatimid Cairo

Project Manager: Zehra Lalji.
Academic and Scientific advisor: Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC).

Partner institutions: The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) & the Aga Khan University-Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC).

Outline: For the last few years, Professor Pradines has been working with the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) on a project called ‘Virtual Fatimid Cairo’. He is the scientific advisor on the project and he offered his support to provide historical, geographical and archaeological information on the Fatimid city. IIS-ISMC is creating a 3D computer model of Fatimid Cairo from the time of Nasir Khusraw (1004-1088 CE) to the end of the Fatimid Caliphate (1171 CE). IIS-ISMC main objective is to produce a 3D model that we will use for different purposes, mainly for education, schools and Museums.

Completed Research Programmes and Excavations:

2000-2016: The Medieval Walls of Cairo, Egypt.

Director: Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC).

Partner institutions: French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO); Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities (SCA); Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).

Outline: In 2000, the French Institute of Archaeology (IFAO) and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) launched a program of study, excavation and conservation of the medieval walls of Cairo. Our excavations started first on the site of Darrasa and were directly linked to the al-Azhar Park project. Later (2004) the team extended the project to other sites, Bab al-Tawfiq (2004-05), Burg al-Zafar (2007-2016), Bab al-Nasr (2012-2015) and al Mashtal (2016). The team focused first on the Ayyubid wall built by Saladin in 1169-1177 AD and then extended its excavations to the newly discovered Fatimid walls from Badr al-Jamali (1087-1091 AD.) and Jawhar al-Siqqili (969-971 AD.). Professor Pradines was the first archaeologist to find these two Fatimid walls and to follow them on the eastern and northern sides of the city. These walls, made of mud bricks and rammed earth, are unique and demonstrate that the Fatimid city was much larger than was previously thought and described by historians. His excavations were also the first large scale excavations done in Fatimid Cairo. All the other major excavations were conducted previously in Fustat (and Istabl Antar). The team’s excavations were not limited to the study of the fortifications and were a great field of investigation for the knowledge of medieval Cairo and allowed us to observe the interaction between the city and the fortifications of Cairo, from the Fatimid era to the Ottoman period. The team’s studies focused on the city and the study of the material culture from the 10th to 16th centuries, focusing particularly on the following topics: domestic architecture, hydraulic systems, cemeteries and funerary anthropology, epigraphy, numismatics, ceramics, wood and textiles, glass and production areas and metalwork.

Three book volumes are planned: The Fatimid Walls (vol 1), The Ayyubid Walls (vol. 2) and Excavations in the Mamluk City (vol. 3). Several famous scholars are associated with this project such as Professor Johannes van den Heijer (Catholic University of Louvain) who is working on the study of the Fatimid inscriptions; Professor Frederic Bauden (Liège University) who is studying the Mamluk coins and Mamluk funerary inscriptions found on my excavations and Dr. Tanja Tolar Senior Teaching Fellow SOAS for the glass material study.

2012-2015: Warfare & Cultures in the Medieval Middle East.

Co-Directors: Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC), Mathieu Eychenne (IFPO), and Abbes Zouache (CNRS).

Partner institutions: French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO); French Institute in Near East, Beirut-Damascus (IFPO).

Outline: From the Fatimid conquest to the fall of the Mamluk Empire, militarised political power imposed a military aristocracy at the head of society, legitimised by the battles against the Crusaders and the Mongols. Cultures of war spread throughout all societies. This International and multidisciplinary program (history, archaeology and anthropology) aimed to identify and analyse the cultures of war, to understand how the war model deeply influenced Muslim societies. Several seminars and sub-research programs were organised around this theme. Professor Pradines was in charge of the program “Forts and Ports” and organised an international panel in Istanbul around the theme “Fortified Cities and Fortified Harbours”. He edited a collective volume around this panel with ten contributions and the manuscript was accepted for publication in October 2017 by the French Institute in Cairo.

2011-2015: Excavations Dembeni, Mayotte (Comoros Archipelago):

Director: Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC).

Partner institutions: Direction of Cultural Affairs in Indian Ocean, Reunion (DRAC); General Council and Prefecture, Mayotte (CG); CNRS - UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée, Islam Médiéval, Paris.

Outline: The trade with the Abbasids and the Fatimids pushed people to live together in port-cities and influenced the urbanisation of the east African coast. Dembeni is one of the largest and richest archaeological sites in east Africa. Its apogee in the 9th - 12th centuries was a period of intensive trade, first with the Abbasids in the Persian Gulf then with the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Dembeni delivered archaeological material of unprecedented wealth for the time, with a large amount of Chinese and Persian ceramics, as well as glassware from all over the Islamic world. In 2013, Professor Pradines’ team discovered that the accumulation of wealth on the site was not made by chance but that it was the rock crystal trade that provided huge financial income to the inhabitants of Dembeni. From Malagasy origin, the rock crystal was exported to Mayotte. Arriving in Mayotte, the Muslim traders exchanged ceramics, fabrics, beads and glass for the precious rock crystal, but only the best parts were stored for export and for ‘the great journey’. Dembeni appears as a major distribution centre for rock crystal in the Indian Ocean. The life and wealth of the site was connected to the international trade of the rock crystal trade with the Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties (9th to 12th C.) The team’s excavation was part of the CNRS’s programme “Atlas ports et itinéraires maritimes de l’Islam medieval”.

2008-2011: War & Peace in the Medieval Middle East

Co-Directors: Stephane Pradines and Abbes Zouache (CNRS).

Partner institutions: French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO); French Institute in Near East, Beirut-Damascus (IFPO).

Outline: This International and multidisciplinary program (history, archaeology and anthropology) aimed to create a new discipline amongst the historians and archaeologists working on the Medieval Middle East: a social history of war. The project concluded with two major conferences: the first in Damascus in 2010 and the second in Cairo in 2011. The first volume, around historiography of war and the discipline, was published in 2015: Guerre dans le Proche-Orient médieval; and the second volume, around recent case studies Guerre et paix dans le Proche-Orient médiéval, xe-xve siècles, is expected to be published in January 2019. During these four years, Professor Pradines led a sub-program called “Fortifications of Medieval Egypt” which will form the basis of a new publication.

2004-2006: Excavations Songo Mnara & Sanje ya Kati (Kilwa), Tanzania

Co-Directors: Stephane Pradines and Pierre Blanchard (WMF).

Partner institutions: French Embassy, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEE), Tanzanian Antiquities; UNESCO; British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA).

Outline: Professor Pradines’ research concerned the relationship between trade and Islam in the Indian Ocean: especially on the Swahili Coast. It focused particularly on the beginnings of the Muslim connections with East Africa and how trade propagated Islam in sub-Saharan Africa. This point is crucial to understanding the beginning of the Swahili Culture. The project was linked to a conservation project and a regional development project lead by UNESCO and the French Embassy. The team was composed of heritage architects in charge of the conservation of the sites of Kilwa Kisiwani, Songo Manara and Sanje ya Kati. Professor Pradines led the archaeological excavations in Songo Mnara and Sanje ya Kati. Our team created a reference map of the sites and found precious information that helped us understand local and internal trade in the region. The project was also developed as a field school in archaeology and conservation.

1999-2003. Excavations Gedi, Kenya:

Director: Stephane Pradines.

Partner institutions: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEE), National Museums of Kenya; British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), CNRS - UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée, Islam Médiéval, Paris.

Outline: Originally this project was connected to Ph.D. research on the Swahili town walls and urbanization. Gedi is an iconic Swahili city with two town walls from different periods (15th and 16th c. During excavations Professor Pradines identified a new great mosque built outside the town walls, which was the centre of the old medieval city (11th-14th c.) but totally ignored by the previous archaeologists. It was the beginning of a new project supported by “La Commission des Fouilles” from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The team worked on a new plan of the site and the study of the Swahili urbanism from the foundation of the city to the arrival of the Europeans in the Indian Ocean.

Awards and honours

2016: Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education, University College London (IOE)
2016: Egyptian Award “Gratitude and Appreciation to the Honourable Professor Stephane Pradines for his collaboration with the Archaeology department, Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University Cairo”
2007-2016: Founder of the first field school of Islamic archaeology in Egypt in partnership with Cairo University, Ain Shams University and the Ministry of Egyptian Antiquities. It was the biggest field school in the discipline created in the Middle East, with nearly 100 trainees in 10 years.
2006: Prix Clio (prestigious award for French archaeologists)
1998: Lauréat aux Prêts d'honneur aux Jeunes (Fondation de France)

Created on:04/26/2016 Last modified:12/23/2019