Centenary Scholarship

  • Eligibility & Applications
  • Past Recipients

A. H. Morton Scholarship

  • Eligibility
  • Applications
  • Past Recipients

The Gibb Memorial Trust offers two annual scholarships to students undertaking doctoral research in the field of the Trust’s activities.

The Gibb Memorial Trust’s Centenary Scholarship of up to £2,000 is available to postgraduate students at an advanced stage of their doctoral research in any area of Middle Eastern Studies (7th century to 1918) at a British university.

The A. H. Morton Memorial Scholarship for Doctoral Research in Classical Persian Studies is for a maximum of £3,000 and can be applied to any year of a course of doctoral study at a British university, including for an approved period of study abroad.

The Gibb Centenary Scholarship

The Gibb Memorial Trust invites applications for the Gibb Centenary Scholarship of up to £2,000, which is awarded annually.

Postgraduate students at an advanced stage of their doctoral research in any area of Middle Eastern Studies (7th century to 1918), and who are studying in a British university, are eligible to apply.

Applicants should submit their CVs and two references, together with an outline of not more than three pages of their research and a statement of their funding position. Applications must reach The Secretary by the end of April.

The result will be announced at the end of June and posted on our web site.

Secretary to the Trustees:

P R Bligh FCA

14 Avalon Way
Cambridge CB2 9DX
United Kingdom


The Gibb Memorial Trust scholarship for the year 2011 was awarded to Wagheeh Mikhail, who is working to complete his thesis. This analyses an Arabic Christian manuscript of the 9th century, written by Ammar al-Basri.

In 2017, Centenary Scholarships were awarded to Laura Hassan, SOAS, University of London, and Kamaluddin Ahmed, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford


Past Recipients

Cailah Jackson, Oxford, 2016 / 17

I am writing this report for the Trustees of the Gibb Memorial Trust who generously awarded me the Gibb Centenary Scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year for which I am sincerely grateful. This grant, which I received in July 2016, helped to cover expenses incurred during the fourth (and final) year of my DPhil degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, and allowed me to focus on the final write-up stages.

My thesis, ‘Patrons and Artists at the Crossroads: The Islamic Arts of the Book in the Lands of Rūm’, was submitted in April 2017 and will be examined in July 2017. The thesis is the first book-length study to analyse the production and patronage of Islamic illuminated manuscripts in late medieval Rūm in their fullest cultural contexts and in relation to the arts of the book of neighbouring regions. Although research concerning the artistic landscapes of late medieval Rūm has made significant progress in recent years, the development of the arts of the book and the nature of their patronage and production has yet to be fully addressed. The topic also remains relatively neglected in the wider field of Islamic art history. This thesis considers the arts of the book and the part they played in artistic life within contemporary scholarly frameworks that emphasise inclusivity, diversity and fluidity. Such frameworks acknowledge the period’s ethnic and religious pluralism, the extent of cross-cultural exchange, the region’s complex political situation after the breakdown in Seljuk rule, and the itinerancy of scholars, Sufis and craftsmen.

Analyses are based on the codicological examination of sixteen illuminated Persian and Arabic manuscripts, none of which have been published in depth. Based on this evidence, this dissertation demonstrates that Rūm’s towns had active cultural scenes despite the frequent outbreak of hostilities and the absence of an effective imperial government. The lavishness of some manuscripts from this period also challenges the often-assumed connection between dynastic patronage and sophisticated artistic production. Furthermore, the identities and affiliations of those involved in the production and patronage of illuminated manuscripts reinforces the impression of an ethnically and religiously diverse environment and highlights the role that local amīrs and Sufi dervishes in particular had in the creation of such material.

Once again, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Trustees for their generosity and the interest shown in my work. I am delighted and honoured to have been selected for this grant.

Peyvand Firouzeh, Cambridge, 2015

Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices fellow, Forum Transregionale Studien and Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin

In June 2015 I was awarded a generous grant from the Gibb Memorial Trust which allowed me to complete my PhD dissertation titled “Architecture, Sanctity and Power: Ne‘matollahi Shrines and Khanqahs in Fifteenth-Century Iran and India,” and to successfully defend it in September 2015.

This interdisciplinary PhD project at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge – under Professor Charles Melville’s supervision – lies at the intersections between the arts, political power, and Sufism between Iran and India. It branches out into literary as well as religious and political studies, and examines the social role of Sufism through their architectural heritage. I focused on four Sufi shrines in southern Iran (Mahan and Taft) and the Deccan Plateau (Bidar) that come together under their
association with a specific Sufi order – namely, the Ni’matullahiyya – founded in central Iran in the fourteenth century. I examined the forms, functions and meanings of these shrines and their evolution over time in their Indo-Persian artistic, cultural, social, and political milieus.

The project focused on a span of about fifty years during which the order changed drastically from a local order to a trans-local institutionalised one. I structured the dissertation around the relationship between buildings and people – i.e. patrons and the Sufi order. This allowed me to conduct an in-depth study of the issue of patronage, and to show how Sufi shrines extend beyond objects of popular piety and veneration, and turn into potentially crucial sites, whose foundation and development process are tied to both the institutionalization of Sufi communities, and to the construction of a dynastic ideology on the part of the rulers. The movements of the order within central and southern Iran, and between Iran and the Deccan, and how these relate to their architectural program, as well as the role of their mobility in shaping the cross-cultural connections between central-south parts of Iran and India were
other important aspect of this project.

I received the Gibb Memorial Trust award during the final (fourth) year of my PhD when I still needed to write the final chapter of my dissertation and revise the whole manuscript. I am extremely grateful to the Board of Trustees of the Gibb Memorial Trust for their interest in my project. With their kind support, I was able to focus on writing up, editing, and preparing to defend my PhD dissertation.

Francesca Biancani, LSE; 2008 / 9

On the 20th of June 2008, I was generously awarded by the Board of Trustees of the Charity in memory of E J W Gibb the 2008 annual scholarship for the 2008-09 Academic Year as a support to my doctoral project about the political economy of prostitution in Colonial Cairo, from 1882 to 1952. (see my research profile and interests at

I am writing to provide you with a brief report about the progression of my research. After conclusion of primary research in the Dar al Watha’iq (the National Archives) and in the Dar al Kutub (National Library) in Cairo in 2007-8 (at the time of application I was based in Cairo in fact), I moved back to Europe where I started working on the third archival strand of my research – the first being the colonial one- National Archives, Kew and Women’s Library, London covered in 2006-07 – the second the local one on Egyptian sources). This third strand on foreign communities resident in Cairo, among which the Italian one has been chosen as a case-study by virtue of its peculiar linkage with the sex-work milieu in Cairo, entailed the surveying of a sample of Consular Court Cases from the Italian Consulate of Cairo (1915-1935) related to prostitution in the Historical and Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome and extensive research on Interpol papers kept at the National Archives in Rome, essential for the reconstruction of the dynamics of feminized migration dynamics across the Mediterranean area. In this respect, the grant effectively supported me in covering my living expenses in Rome for two months. I recently had my end of the year review panel at the London School of Economics and I am now registered for my 4th and final year. I now plan to write the last chapter of the dissertation and start revising and editing the whole thesis, in order to submit the final work in September 2010. In providing you with this brief report, I take the chance to express again my deepest gratitude for the interest showed in my work.

Amina Elbendary, Cambridge; 2006 / 07

As a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge for the past four years, I was fortunate to be awarded a Gibb Centenary Scholarship by the Gibb Trust in 2006-2007. The title of my dissertation is Faces in the Crowd: Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria. It focuses on incidents of urban protest against state authority as reported in contemporary historical literature. Late medieval historical literature is remarkable and for the depth of detail it provides on life in cities like Damascus and Cairo. This broad scope allows the common people to enter the historical scene. One type of activity that ensured common people of the cities a mention in historical literature is incidents of popular protest.

Urban protest took a variety of forms including complaints and petitions, rioting, direct physical attacks on officials, and market strikes. Different motives spurred these protests, including fluctuations in the grain market or recurrent debasing of the currency or perceived injustice by government officials. However, all reported protests had a legitimizing justification. Reports of protest bring to light the different roles played by various social groups in medieval Egypt and Syria. Rather than paint a picture of pre-modern Arab- Muslim societies as neatly divided between autocratic exploitative governments and disempowered exploited subjects, an analysis of protest offers a more dynamic portrayal that brings out the roles of merchants, craftsmen, tradesmen, scholars of various standing, pious men, Bedouin, government officials and military officers. During a time of economic crises and recurring plagues, this portrayal shows that far from silently and stoically enduring the hardships of the times, the common people of Egypt and Syria were actively protesting, voicing their demands and manipulating the political, social and economic system to better their living conditions. This further complicates modern historiographical paradigms such as Oriental Despotism and the political quietism of Sunni Muslim political thought.

The Gibb Scholarship partially supported my last year of study in Cambridge, allowing me to focus on writing up the dissertation. It also enabled me to acquire more sources for my research, namely Syrian sources that were not available in Cambridge. The funding was greatly appreciated especially as the Gibb Trust is one of the few funding bodies that favour students of Arab and Ottoman history in the late stages of their research, when other sources of funding typically run out. Thanks in part to the support of the Gibb Trust I was able to submit my dissertation on time.


Murat Mem Menguc, Cambridge 2006 / 07

While a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge, I was awarded the Gibb Centenary Scholarship for 2006-2007 by the Gibb Memorial Trust. At the time, the award came as a very important contribution, as I was coming close to completing my dissertation. My work focused on 15th-century Ottoman historiography. The earliest evidence for a comprehensive Ottoman history book dates to the 1410’s and it remains the only example of its kind until the 1450’s. Between 1450 and the 1480’s, further Ottoman histories emerge. Thus, the second half of 15th century is described as the period in which Ottoman historiography came into existence. My thesis argued that our understanding of this phenomenon was in need of re-evaluation. Contrary to the suggestions of modern scholars, throughout the century Ottoman historiography was not a homogenous phenomenon. Similarly, the Ottoman palace was far from successfully dictating an established Ottoman ideology through comprehensive Ottoman history books. Even though rulers may have wished to see a single type of Ottoman history, they were exposed to more than one kind of Ottoman past. In fact, during the second half of the 15th century, there were at least three versions of Ottoman histories that were known among the literary elite.

During the second half of the century, Ottoman historiography was marked by a debate that took shape in the hands of the literary elite who discussed the content of all types of Ottoman histories with which they were familiar. In this debate, the anonymous Ottoman histories became quintessential texts. These texts neither represented the Ottoman palace nor its elite servants. They were texts meant for the general Turkish- speaking community written by unknown and less educated scribes. They had an inclusive discourse, a populist style, a genuine concern about the well-being of the common people and advocated the disgruntled subjects of the empire who considered themselves alienated by a centralized state. Also, a number of historians who came from educated backgrounds and wrote in Turkish integrated the content of these anonymous texts into their own work, thus initiating a transition to a new period of historiography. A transformation occurred in Ottoman historiography during the late 15th century, not as a result of an ideological shift in the palace as is argued by modern scholarship, but from an internal debate which took place among the historians themselves.

At the time I received the Gibb Scholarship, my thesis was a mixture of notes and ideas waiting to be penned down as a coherent argument. I have appreciated the support of the Gibb Trust because it helped me to focus on writing up the dissertation, acquire at least two further primary sources from the European manuscript collections and partially paid for my living expenses. Since I received the award towards the end of my studies, I remember it as a much-needed fresh breath of air before submitting my work.

Georgios C. Liakopoulos, Royal Holloway;

I am pleased to report on the progress of my doctoral thesis, entitled ‘A study of the early Ottoman Peloponnese in the light of an annotated editio princeps of the TT10-1/14662 Ottoman taxation cadastre (ca. 1460-1463)’, conducted under the supervision of the late Julian Chrysostomides at The Hellenic Institute, History Department of Royal Holloway, University of London. You will be pleased to know that my thesis passed subject to minor amendments.

The thesis explores geographic, economic and demographic aspects of the Peloponnese in the first years of the Ottoman conquest (1460), on the basis of an annotated editio princeps of the first Ottoman taxation cadastre of the province of the Peloponnese (Defter-i Liv?’-? Mora), compiled sometime between ca. 1460-1463. So far, no complete edition of the text has appeared. Numbering 284 pages this cadastre was split into two parts in the recent past, and is now preserved in Istanbul (TT10, Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives) and Sofia (1/14662, St. Cyril & Methodius National Library of Bulgaria).

The study comprises two Parts (I-II), in two volumes respectively. Part I contains an Introduction, three Chapters (1-3) and a Conclusion. The Introduction presents the aims, scope and methodology adopted, followed by a survey of previous scholarship conducted on the subject, and a brief historical examination of the late Byzantine Peloponnese and its conquest by the Ottomans. It concludes with a brief codicological and palaeographical description of the cadastre. Chapter 1 is devoted to the historical geography of the Peloponnese. All place-names mentioned in the cadastre are listed in the sequence they appear therein, accompanied by topographic and linguistic notes. This is followed by a set of digital maps of the Early Ottoman Peloponnese using GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Chapter 2 is a demographical investigation of the cadastre, including the settlement patterns, the density of population and its categorisation into urban/rural, sedentary/nomadic, concentrating in particular on the influx and settlement of the second largest ethnic group in the peninsula after the Greeks, namely the Albanians. Chapter 3 explores the economy and administration of the province concentrating on the Ottoman t?m?r system and the economic mechanisms. A detailed presentation of the level of agricultural production, types of crops, livestock, fishing, commerce, industrial development, etc. is illustrated with tables and charts. The Conclusion summarises the findings of the research and suggests areas for further investigation. Part II comprises a diplomatic edition of the transliterated Ottoman text, preceded by a note on the principles and conventions adopted in the edition. The thesis closes with a full bibliography followed by selected samples of facsimiles of the cadastre.

I would like to express once more my deep gratitude to the Gibb Memorial Trust for the grant I was awarded, which enabled me to proceed and complete my research in this unexplored area. Your support has been fully acknowledged in the Preface to my thesis, and will also be acknowledged to any relevant publication in the future.

The A. H. Morton Scholarship  for Doctoral Research in Classical Persian Studies

The Gibb Memorial Trust is pleased to announce an Annual Scholarship  in memory of Alexander (Sandy) Morton for doctoral research in the area of classical Persian Studies. Sandy Morton (1942-2011) worked at the British Museum and as Senior Lecturer in Persian at the London School of African and Oriental Studies. His interests ranged widely over the field, from glass weights and numismatics to Persian literature and the history of Iran from the Saljuqs to the Safavids. He was a long-standing Trustee of the Gibb Memorial Trust.

The award is for a maximum of £3,000 and can be applied to any year up to the final completion of a course of doctoral study at a British university, including for an approved period of study abroad; it will be paid at the start of the academic year in question, up to the submission of the dissertation.

The Gibb Memorial Trust was founded in 1902 to commemorate Elias John Wilkinson Gibb. He devoted his life to researching the history, literature, philosophy and religion of the Turks, Persians and Arabs and the objectives of the Trust are to promote the study and advancement of these topics.


The award is open to all students undertaking doctoral research at a British university in the field of classical Persian studies, loosely defined to embrace Persian literature and history of the pre-modern era but not excluding other areas of study.

Recipients of the award will not be eligible to reapply another year. Those unable to take up an award will need to reapply.


  • Should be submitted in writing and sent by post or email to the address below;
  • Should be received not later than 30 April for the academic year starting the following October;
  • Should include proof of application or of acceptance to study on a course of doctoral research at a British university;
  • Should contain a brief curriculum vitae (maximum 2 pages) and description of the dissertation topic and intended use of the award (maximum 2 pages plus budget);
  • Should be supported by two references from the dissertation supervisor(s) or persons familiar wth the student’s previous graduate or undergraduate work, to be sent separately to the Trust by the same deadline.

Applications will be reviewed by the Trustees and shortlisted applicants may be called for an interview in person, if in the UK or, if overseas, by Skype.

Awards will be announced by early June. They will be paid in two instalments, depending on the nature of the support requested. The first will be made on proof of commencement or continuation of the doctoral programme at the start of the next academic year; the second instalment will follow receipt of a satisfactory progress report supported by the dissertation supervisor(s), to be received by the 30 April following.

In the event of applications including an approved period of research abroad, the first instalment will be made on receipt of proof of travel arrangements and the second instalment on submission of a final report with proof of the expenditures borne. Money not spent within the academic year in question should be returned.

All recipients of the A.H. Morton Scholarship will be required to acknowledge this support in their dissertation and to write a final report on their grant and how it furthered their work, for publication on the website of the Gibb Memorial Trust.

Applications and enquiries for further information should be sent to

E J W Gibb Memorial Trust
14 Avalon Way
Cambridge CB2 9DX
United Kingdom

The A. H. Morton Memorial Scholarship for 2017 was awarded to Naciem Nikkhah, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge.

Past Recipients

Shiva Mihan, Cambridge, 2015 / 16

I would like to thank the Gibb Memorial Trust for their generous support to help me pay for the last year of my PhD with A.H. Morton Scholarship. Here is a brief report on my research on the library and atelier of the Timurid prince, Baysunghur Mirza, in the first six months of the current Academic year.

October 2015 – April 2016

The age of digitisation and accessibility of online catalogues has been a great aid to scholarship in general and to the field of codicology in particular. Searching the databases of different libraries, along with extensive fieldwork to delve into catalogues of archives in Istanbul in September last year, helped me to discover a few previously unknown Baysunghuri productions, which shed a new light on Baysunghur’s library and court staff. The result of this discovery was recently presented in a one-day seminar organised by the British Institute of Persian Studies and an article that will be published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in the coming year.

After completing my fieldwork by the start of the academic year in October, I started writing my dissertation and have prepared a first draft of three chapters:

Chapter I: The Patron

This chapter first gives a chronology of Baysunghur Mirza’s life including all related events with a specific date that is recorded in historical primary sources, and then investigates his talents and the artistic aspect of his life, as well as his role and taste in the organisation of royal library-workshop, according to art historical sources. It also discusses his calligraphic oeuvre in detail to clarify the authenticity of some of the works attributed to him, such as the Baysunghuri Qur’an and the inscription on the Gauhar Shad Mosque in Mashhad.

Chapter II: The Library-workshop

The second part of my dissertation is about the structure of Baysunghur’s royal library, which also functioned as an atelier or workshop to produce manuscripts and other exquisitely artistic objects. Apart from art historical sources, the data used in this phase is based on a contemporary document written by the head of Baysunghur’s library. It is a fragment of a regular report on the progress of projects at hand addressed to the prince and is called the ‘Arzeh-dasht’. This document not only presents valuable information on the performance of the workshop, but also contains several technical terms that have long been ambiguous to scholars and require explanation. The rest of the chapter accumulates the information about calligraphers, artists, poets and other staff of the royal library and court, extracted from all the available primary sources.

Chapter III: The Productions

The first part of the third chapter presents an updated list of all so-far-known productions, comprising of 30 dated and 5 undated manuscripts associated with Baysunghur’s library. This expands the latest number of 22 manuscripts listed by Roxburgh in 2014. The rest of the chapter concentrates on each production and discusses codicological and stylistic aspects of all the manuscripts, some of which have been previously studied in Thomas Lentz’s PhD dissertation (1985) or in different monographs; I also give a complete study of my recently discovered manuscripts.

The last six months have also seen the completion of three articles that contribute to the topic of my dissertation and have helped me clarify my ideas and the development of my research. A further short paper is also nearly ready for publication.

In the coming half of the year I need to make a field trip to Herat (where Baysunghur maintained his atelier), for which I have obtained a grant from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, before devoting the rest of my time to finishing my thesis. I am hoping to submit it in early 2017.

Articles accepted for publication or in press (2016)

Hidden from Scholarly Eyes for a Century: An unknown Bāysunghurī manuscript sheds new light on his court and library”, JRAS.

The Bāysonghori Manuscript in the Tehran Malek Library”, in Shahnama Studies III.

On the term Keshti in the Baysonghori ‘Arzeh-dasht”, Iran Journal of BIPS.


An unknown Bāysunghurī manuscript”, in the BIPS workshop, Downing College, Cambridge University, March 2016.

Shivan Mahendrarajah, Cambridge; 2013 / 14

Shivan Mahendrarajan, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

Dissertation entitled Sufi Shaykhs of Jam: A History, from the Il-Khans to the Timurids

I submit this report to the Trustees of the Gibb Memorial Trust with gratitude for the generous grant made in the fourth-year of my doctoral program. The dissertation was timely, submitted for examination in March 2014 and passed on 30th May 2014.

The grant helped to defray expenses incurred during the write-up of my dissertation. I examined the mystical community at Turbat-i Jam in Iran that venerated Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad-i Jam (d. 1141). The period of inquiry is from the Mongol irruptions (ca. 1220-21), to the collapse of the Timurid dynasty in Persia (ca. 1506). The saint, his many descendants, and the winsome shrine-complex at Jam, are examined. Explicated is the patronage that the shrine-complex received as mosques, portals (iwan), domes (gunbad), hospices (khanaqah), and madrasas; and pious endowments (waqf) and royal land grants (soyurghals) as described in Islamic legal instruments, and in Mongol and Timurid chancery documents.

In the 9th /15th century, certain Shaykhs of Jam affiliated with the inchoate Khwajagan-Naqshbandiyya. A select history of these Khwajagan mystical currents, from their hazy Transoxianan origins, to their spiritual endeavors in Cisoxiana; and explications of their evolving doctrines and hybrid practices, are proffered in the dissertation.

I am honored to be the recipient of an academic grant from a memorial endowment being devised in A.H. ‘Sandy’ Morton’s name. I regret that I never had the privilege of knowing Mr. Morton, who became terminally ill sometime after I matriculated at Cambridge. Scholars in Persian Studies, notably my supervisor and my external examiner, independently stated that Sandy Morton would have enjoyed reading my dissertation. Moreover, one scholar commented when I was battling a particularly stubborn medieval Persian manuscript, that ‘Sandy Morton would have been the best person’ to assist me with de-ciphering barely legible Perso-Arabic orthography, and in interpreting abstruse Persian prose. I have, however, made profitable use of Mr. Morton’s scholarship on Sarbadar numismatics. Nevertheless, I regret that Mr. Morton did not have the opportunity to critique my scholarship – for better or for worse – nor have the opportunity to read with me tracts from my eclectic collection of Persian manuscripts.

I am grateful to the Trustees and honored to have been selected for this grant.