Prof Timothy Insoll

Professor Timothy Insoll FBA FSA FRAS is Al-Qasimi Professor of African and Islamic Archaeology and Director of Research at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, where he is also founding Director of the Centre for Islamic Archaeology. He is Honorary Archaeological Advisor to the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, HRH Sh. Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and is an Honorary Curator in the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and  Honorary Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, Society of Antiquaries and Royal Asiatic Society.   

He has completed extensive archaeological fieldwork in Gao and Timbuktu in Mali, northern Ghana, Bahrain, western India, and eastern Ethiopia, the latter as PI of a recently ended ERC Advanced Grant funded project, Becoming Muslim (2016-2022). Most recently he has started a new partnership archaeological research project looking at the Darb al-Anbiyā’, the ‘Way of the Prophets’, between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. In addition to the ERC, he has received research funding from the Wellcome Trust, AHRC, British Academy, and Max van Berchem Foundation. He completed his studies at the Universities of Sheffield (1989-1992) and Cambridge, and after finishing his PhD (1992-1995) was a Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge (1995-1998), and was subsequently at the University of Manchester (1999-2016). He is curator of two site museums in Bilad al-Qadim, Bahrain, and Harlaa, Ethiopia and has recently co-curated the new Islamic archaeology section, Ancient Islamic Societies, in the National Museum of Ethiopia. He was curator of the exhibition, Fragmentary Ancestors in Manchester Museum (2013-2014) and co-curator for Africa in Hajj. Journey to the Heart of Islam in the British Museum (2012).  

He has published extensively, including 11 monographs (one translated into Turkish and one into Persian), 13 edited volumes and special issues of journals and approximately 55 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 50 contributions to edited volumes. Most recently he edited a special section on the Islamic archaeology in sub-Saharan Africa for the Journal of Islamic Archaeology (2022, 9[2]), and is currently working on three books, a monograph,  Islamic Archaeology in Global Perspective (Abingdon: Routledge), and as editor,  Becoming Muslim: Archaeology in Harlaa and Harar, Eastern Ethiopia (Leiden: Brill), and The Church of the East. Excavations in Samahij, Bahrain (Oxford: Archaeopress). 

Professor Insoll was elected a CBRL Trustee in December 2023 and serves on CBRL’s Research Committee.