Member Only Lecture: What Birds Can Teach Us About the Mamluks: Insights into Medieval Life in Egypt

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Presented by: Dr. Heba Saad; Cultural Attaché and director of the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau

  • 2:00 PM ETNational
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Lecture Information

The fauna of Egypt shaped its economic activities, social practices, and cultural expressions in addition to affecting its political relations. Although environmental history received much interest in the last decade, studying the fauna of Egypt during medieval times was rarely addressed. Birds as part of the fauna played an essential role in the lives of all social classes of Egyptian society. In my lecture, I demonstrate that birds were not just a source of nutrition and material but were related to various social, political, economic, scientific, and artistic aspects of life during the Mamluk period (1250-1517) 

In my presentation, I will shed light on the various usages of birds and highlight how the upper class paid special attention to birds of prey as they were used for hunting and as diplomatic gifts. Birds were also represented in Art, reflecting many details about social, political, and cultural aspects of the Mamluk Civilization. 

Speaker Bio

Professor Dr. Heba Mahmoud Saad Abdelnaby is the Cultural Attaché and director of the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau. She graduated from Alexandria University where she obtained her PhD and she is currently a professor of Islamic History and Archaeology at the Tourist Guiding Department at the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Alexandria University. 

Prof. Dr. Heba Abdelnaby was a Fulbright scholar at Mary Baldwin University, VA, USA in 2007-2008, and a visiting scholar at George Washington University in 2017. Moreover, she was a visiting scholar at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Germany) in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Add to this, she held several administrative positions such as Director of the Quality Assurance Unit, Head of the Tourist Guiding Department, and Vice Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at the Faculty of Tourism, Alexandria University. 

Dr. Heba is the international representative of “HIAA: Historians of Islamic Art Association” https://www.historiansofislamicart.org/about  and a member of several international research projects such as “EGYLandscape: the Historical Landscape of Egypt throughout the 13th till 18th century” https://www.egylandscape.org/ and “Dealing with Material Culture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Between Excavation and Digitization” 

Dr. Heba is also the author of a long list of internationally acclaimed research in addition to 9 books and book chapters, the most recent of which are “Identities in Touch between East and West” published by Peter Lang in 2022 https://www.peterlang.com/document/1253479, “Birds during the Mamluk Period الطيور في العصر المملوكي” by Ein for Human and Social Studies 2021, “Conservation of Architectural Heritage”, Springer 2022 and “Al-Dawadar fi Misr fi al-Asr al-Mamlukiالدوادار في مصر في العصر المملوكي ”, 2021.