Team members

Gabrielle van den Berg

Gabrielle van den Berg is Professor of Cultural History of Iran and Central Asia at Leiden University Library. She studied Persian language and culture at the University of Leiden and at the University of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. She has held positions in Leiden, Cambridge and Brussels. Her research interests include Persian literature and the history of Iran and Central Asia; she has published in particular on the oral traditions of the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan and the Shahnama manuscript tradition.

Elena Paskaleva

Elena Paskaleva is assistant professor in Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe at Leiden University. Her current research focuses on the material culture of Central Asia, and in particular on the history and socio-political importance of Timurid architecture. She has published widely on the restorations of Timurid architecture in present-day Uzbekistan. 

Sara Mirahmadi

After Winning Winner the gold medal in the National Olympiad of Literature and Linguistics (Ranked 1st among 25000 participants) in Iran, Sara Mirahmadi received her BA and MA in literature from the university of Teheran. She then joined the project in Leiden as a PhD-student. Her research uses literary sources to investigate how the Turkic dynasties of the Seljuqs and the Mongolian Ilkhanids impacted the governance and culture of the lands they conquered and how their nomadic past and imperial ideology were connected.

Toby Jones

Toby Jones looked at how the irruption of the Mongols impacted the larger world scene, focusing on their invasion of the Persianate world and the creation of the Ilkhanid state in Iran in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Nicholas Kontovas

Nicolas’ research focuses on explaining major structural changes in the Turkic of Central Asia as a function of contact between speakers of different languages. More specifically, he investigates to what extend the emergence of innovative features in the verbal systems of these languages is the result of borrowing and/or areal phenomena associated with bilingualism between Turkic and Persian or Turkic and other local substrate languages. Nicolas currently works as a subject librarian at the Nizami Ganjavi Library in Oxford

Birte Kristiansen

Birte Kristiansen has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and has worked for many years as a librarian and project manager at Leiden University. For this project she is involved in the design of the website and in developing initiatives to share the project’s output beyond the scope of the scientific world with the general audience.

Photo on this page: Old man in Samarqand, taken 2006, photo taken by Elena Paskaleva CC-BY 4.0

Portraits owned by the people portrayed.