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Kristoffer Damgaard – University of Copenhagen

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Kristoffer Damgaard (PhD)
Assistant Professor

My main academic interests concern the cultural and socio-economic processes associated with the rise and expansion of Islamic society. My research focus is currently on the linkage of, and mobility between, the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean littorals – in particular from a mercantile perspective. These littorals are viewed as coherent regions of interaction and analysed as flexible and dynamic ‘cultural continents’ bound as much to the bodies of water they delimit, as to the landmasses they connect.

I am engaged in a multi-tiered programme of research that hinges on two conceptually linked field projects. The first, the Aylah Archaeological Project is engaged in the excavation and analysis of Aylah in modern Aqaba (Jordan); a nodal emporium heavily engaged in both maritime and terrestrial networks of exchange in the Early Islamic period (650-1100 CE). A complimentary but independent project, the Coastal Connectivity Survey Project (CCSP), will over the coming years (2013-2015) investigate the trajectories of movement to and from this nodal centre of commerce by means of a series of coordinated archaeological surveys in the wadi systems behind Aqaba. The results of these surveys will be correlated with archaeological data from large parts of Southern Palestine, in order to ascertain as complete an understanding of the conditions and modes of movement in a landscape characterized both by hyper aridity and entrepreneurial spirit.

My research interests also include the formulation of cultural concepts and identities in material culture, and I consider the expanding commercial networks under the aegis of Islam as an important factor in the gradual formation of a globalised mind set in the early Middle Ages.

For that reason, I consider our engagement with Aarhus University’s Sapere Aude research unit Entrepôt a crucial collaboration, and Dr Søren Sindbæk an important sparring partner. By juxtaposing the results from these individual projects, we might gain truly innovative and ground-breaking insights into how the world became aware of, and interested in, that which lay beyond the far horizons.

Other academic interests include:

  • Comparative studies of different geographical and cultural regions in the Middle Ages
  • Place-making and the development of spatial hierarchies in both architecture and landscapes
  • The formulation and development of aesthetic, symbolic and artistic concepts in the Islamic world.
  • Gardens and horticulture in Islamic contexts
  • Globalisation studies
  • Nautical archaeology
  • Landscape archaeologies