About the Seminar العربية

The Seminar for Arabian Studies is the only annual international forum for the presentation of the latest academic research on the Arabian Peninsula. The subjects covered include archaeology, history, epigraphy, languages, literature, art, culture, ethnography, geography, etc. from the earliest times to the present day or, in the case of political and social history, to the end of the Ottoman Empire (1922).

Its three-day conference is held each July at the British Museum (though the 2017 Seminar will take place in early August) and the Proceedings are always published in time for the conference the following year – a record for the publication of conference proceedings. Between 50 and 60 papers are presented each year, together with many posters. In recent years, there has also been a Special Session on a particular topic, papers from which are published in a separate Supplement, also within the year. Recent Special Sessions have been on “The development of Arabic as a written language”, “The Nabataeans in Focus”, “Museums in Arabia”, and “The ancient and modern languages of Southern Arabia”. Over 200 scholars and students from countries throughout the world attend the Seminar each year. Interested members of the public are also very welcome.

A brief history of the Seminar

The Seminar began as an informal study group set up in 1968 at the time of the first official British archaeological survey in Saudi Arabia, led by Peter Parr of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London. The purpose of the group was to promote archaeological research in the Arabian Peninsula and, after an initial meeting, the group formed itself into the Arabia Society, with John Dayton as Honorary Secretary.

After two relatively small conferences in 1969 and another two in 1970, the Seminar for Arabian Studies, as it had now become, settled into a pattern of annual conferences, of ever increasing size, in 1971, 1972, and 1973. From 1974 onwards, the present pattern had been established of a three-day conference in July, with the publication of its Proceedings in time for the conference of the following year. For many years, the conference circulated between London, Oxford, and Cambridge with occasional visits to Durham, Edinburgh and Manchester. However, since 2002 it has been hosted in London by the British Museum.

Summaries of some of the papers presented at the first Seminar and a list of those given at the second (in January and June 1969 respectively) were published in the Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London 8-9, 1968-1969: 243-258. These were later republished, together with papers from the third to sixth Seminars (the 3rd Seminar held in January 1970, the 4th in June 1970, the 5th in September 1971, and the 6th in September 1972) in a cumulative volume together with the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies vol. 1-3 in 1973. This was in addition to the separate volumes of PSAS 1 (1971), 2 (1972) and 3 (1973).

From volume 1 (1971), containing the papers from the fourth Seminar held in Cambridge in June 1970, the Proceedings have been published each year and 2016 will see volume 46, containing the papers from the 49th Seminar held in London in July 2015.

Steering and Editorial Committee of the Seminar for Arabian Studies

Dr Derek Kennet (Chair)
Dr Janet Starkey (Editor of PSAS)
Dr Tim Power (Research Editor)
Dr Robert Wilson (Treasurer)
Mr Dan Eddisford (Secretary)
Dr Rob Carter
Dr Nadia Durrani
Dr Orhan Elmaz
Dr Julian Jansen van Rensburg
Mr Michael C.A. Macdonald
Dr Harry Munt
Dr Tim Power
Dr St John Simpson
Dr Lucy Wadeson
Dr Iwona Zych

Additional members of the Editorial Committee

Professor Alessandra Avanzini
Professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay
Dr Ricardo Eichmann
Professor Clive Holes
Professor Khalil Al-Muaikel
Professor Daniel T. Potts
Professor Christian J. Robin
Professor Lloyd Weeks

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