Dr Edward Zychowicz-Coghill
Lecturer in the History of Asia
I grew up in the rural north-east of England, where I attended Teesdale School in Barnard Castle. I went on to undergraduate and graduate study in History at the University of Oxford, interspersed with spells at the universities of Damascus, Chicago, and Princeton.
After receiving my doctorate I spent several years at the University of Cambridge as, variously, a postdoc in the Classics Faculty, a Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. I joined King’s College London in 2022.
Research interests and PhD supervision
My doctoral work was on early traditions of Arabic historical writing about both the rise of Islam and the pre-Islamic world, investigating the socio-political contexts which produced these first Arabic histories, the hegemonic ideas they disseminated, and the techniques of authorship used to convey them.
Two books have resulted from this work. The First Arabic Annals: Fragments of Umayyad History (Berlin, 2021) demonstrates how we can reconstruct early, lost Islamic annalistic histories which bridge the gap between late antique Greek and Syriac histories and mature Arabic historiography. Writing the Conquest of Egypt: The Formation of Early Islamic Historiography (Cambridge, forthcoming), contextualises the emergence of a local tradition of Arabic history-writing, tracing the shifting uses of history over the first Islamic centuries which determined the shape and content of our surviving texts.
Since then I have written about ethnic and geographical discourses in Islamic representations of antiquity, the Arabic reception of late antique Iranian history-writing, and foundation narratives of the first Islamic cities. My latest research project is into how attitudes to wealth, inequality and the social obligations they inspire were used to mark and maintain social distinctions in early Islamic society.
I welcome applications from PhD students on any aspect of early Islamic history and historiography.
I teach modules at undergraduate and graduate level on topics including Medieval History, Early Islamic History, Historical Skills, History and Memory, Transnational History, and Wealth.
My office hours are Mondays 4-5pm (S8.26); Thursdays 9-10am (online) - click here to book.
Expertise and public engagement
I co-convene the Earlier Middle Ages Seminar at the Institute for Historical Research.
‘How the West Was Won: Unearthing an Umayyad History of the Conquest of the Maghrib’, in A. Marsham (ed.), The Umayyad World (London, 2020), 539-70.
The First Arabic Annals: Fragments of Umayyad History (Berlin, 2021).
‘Medieval Arabic Archaeologies of the Ancient Cities of Syria’, in L. Blanke, S. Çagaptay, E. Zychowicz-Coghill, E. Fowden (eds.), Cities as Palimpsests: Erasure, Exposure and Other Urban Responses in the Eastern Mediterranean (Oxford, 2022), 329-49.
‘Remembering the Ancient Iranian City from Late Antiquity to Islam: Hamza al-Isfahani and the Sasanian Book of Kings’, in S. Ottewill-Soulsby and J. Martínez Jiménez (eds.), Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City (Oxford, 2022), 247-74.
‘Minority Representation in the Futuh Misr of Ibn ʿAbd al-Hakam: Origins and Roles’, in R. Hoyland (ed.), The Late Antique World of Early Islam: Muslims among Christians and Jews in the East Mediterranean (Princeton, 2015), 9-35.