Ahmad Al-Jallad

Witte Singel 25/M. de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden, NL, Room number 1.07B
+31 (0)71 527 2223 —


Leiden University, Centre for Linguistics and Institute for Area Studies, Assistant Professor of Ancient Arabia and Arabic and Semitic Linguistics (2012-present); Director of the Arabic language program (2013-2014); Director of the Leiden Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia (2015-present).

Oxford University, Khalili Research Center, Research Associate on the Online Corpus of Ancient North Arabian Inscriptions project (2013-present)

University of Pisa, Post-doctoral fellowship on the Digital Archive for the Study of pre-Islamic Arabic Inscriptions project (2012)

Harvard University, Teaching Fellow in Arabic language acquisition (2007-2012); Intensive Summer School instructor (2009)

Brandeis University, Instructor of Arabic language (2009-2010).


Harvard University

  • PhD, 2012, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (with distinction); secondary field, Historical Linguistics
  • MA, 2011, Semitic Philology

Grants and funded projects

  • NWO Veni grant: The Writings on the Rocks: Thamudic and Arabia’s Linguistic Past, PI
  • NWO Free Competition Grant: Landscapes of Survival: Pastorialist Societies, Rock Art, and Literacy in Jordan’s Black Desert, c. 1000 BC to 500 CE, Co-PI, PI Peter Akkermans
  • NWO PhD Scholarships in the Humanities: Linguistic Variation at Dadān, Supervisor, PhD student Fokelien Kootstra




  • Old Arabic: An Evidence-Based History. Leiden: Brill, (HdO series).
  • An Introduction to Ancient North Arabian Epigraphy. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, (SILO series).


  • An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. Leiden: Brill (translation into Arabic underway).

Articles and Book Chapters


  • The Arabic of the Petra Papyri. In J. and M. Kaimio (eds.), Petra Papyri V. Amman: ACOR.
  • The earliest stages of Arabic and its linguistic classification. In A. Benmamoun and R. Bassiouney (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. New York: Routledge.
  • The linguistic landscape of pre-Islamic Arabia: Context for the Qurʾan. In M. Shah and A. Abdelhalim (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Qurʾan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ancient North Arabian. In T. Kaizer (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Hellenistic and Roman Near East. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.







Invited lectures


  • To the desert, the night, and horses, I am well known; to the sword and the spear, to the blade and the stone: Writing among Arabia’s pre-Islamic nomads. 10th Zenobia Congress, Amsterdam, Nov 14, 2015 (Plenery)
  • Arabic, Upside Down. Forum for Arabic Linguistics. Essex, Jul 28, 2015 (Plenery)
  • Multilingualism, Calquing, and Code-Switching in the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia. Narratives on Translation, Berlin, Nov 16–20, 2015
  • Tracing the history of the Arabic definite article: a new perspective from Old (pre-Islamic) Arabic. ACMES, Amsterdam, Jan 28, 2015.
  • More reflections on the linguistic map of pre-Islamic Arabia. Invited lecture, University of Helsinki, Apr 29, 2015.
  • Ancient North Arabian and Old Arabic: State of the Art in the twenty-first century. GLECS, Paris, Apr 16, 2015.


  • A reassessment of Old Arabic. Invited lecture, University of Erlangen, May 21, 2014.
  • Echoes of Canaanite myth in Arabia: an excerpt of the Baal cycle in a Safaito-Hismaic inscription. Invited lecture, Polish Science Academy, Krakow, Sep 23, 2014.
  • A dialect geography of Old Arabic. Horizons of Islamic Theology, Frankfurt, Sept 2. 2014.
  • Before Sunrise: Arabic and Arabia in Antiquity. Invited lecture, University of Utrecht, Nov 25, 2014.


  • Reflections on Proto-Arabic phonology in light of new evidence from the pre-Islamic period. Invited lecture at the University of Vienna, Jun 5, 2013.
  • The Arabic of the Islamic Conquests based on the Greek transcriptions from P.Lond 4 and P.Ness 3. Arabic in Context. Leiden, Nov 2, 2013.
  • Tē Arabōn Phōnē: the Arabic of the southern Levant through the pre-Islamic Graeco-Arabica, Ecrit et écriture dans la formation des identités en monde syriaque et arabe IIIe-VIIe siécles, Paris, Apr 4, 2013.
  • Reflections on the Arabic of the Petra Papyri and its relationship with the modern Levantine dialects. Syrian and Lebanese Arabic in the 21st Century Continuity | Changes | Perspectives, Vienna, Jun 6, 2013.

Referred conference presentations


  • Arabic-Aramaic language contact in the pre-Islamic period: a view from documentary sources. North American Conference on Afro-Asiatic Linguistics 43, Washington D.C., Feb 14, 2015.
  • An Old Arabic inscription in Greek letters. AIDA 11, May 26, 2015.


  • The first Safaitic poetic text, North American Conference on Afro-Asiatic Linguistics 42, Leiden, Feb 14, 2014.
  • Reflexes of the emphatics in pre-Hilalian Maghrebian Arabia. Conference on African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden, Aug 24, 2014.
  • The phonetic origins of Arabic orthography. International Society of Arabic Papyrology, Munich, Oct 9, 2014.


  • The sound change s > h in West Semitic, revisited, North American Conference on Afro-Asiatic Linguistics 41, New Haven, Feb. 18.



  • All levels of Arabic, from 1st year MSA to advanced reading and speaking courses
  • The linguistic history of the Middle East
  • Reading Arabic texts: Medieval and Modern prose
  • Language, Power, and Identity (honors course)
  • Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • Introduction to the comparative grammar of the Semitic languages
  • Arabic linguistic diversity
  • Sociolinguistics of the Middle East


  • Historical grammar of Arabic
  • Ancient North Arabian epigraphy
  • The language of the Qurʾān: from early Islamic sources to the Luxenberg hypothesis


  • Nabataean inscriptions
  • Hebrew for North Arabianists
  • Reading Dadanitic inscriptions
  • Ancient South Arabian (Sabaic)

Leiden Linguistic Summer School

  • Introduction to Ancient North Arabian (2013, 2015)
  • Historical Grammar of Arabic (2014)


  • Studies in Semitic Languages and Lingusitics, Brill, co-editor, w. A. Rubin
  • Arabian Epigraphic Notes, Editor-in-Chief
  • International Journal of Arabic Linguistics, Editorial board member
  • Digital Archive for the Study of Pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions, Editorial board member

Digital humanities projects

  • Founding editor of the Journal Arabian Epigraphic Notes, published by LeiCenSAA.
    The Journal establishes a model for publishing without the involvement of a for-profit Academic publisher, utilizing the repository resource of university libraries (in our case, Leiden University). Online epigraphic databases are fully integrated into the citation system, so references are linked to the individual cards of these databases. Verification.
  • Editor of on the OCIANA open-access database of North Arabian epigraphy. Verification.
  • Editor of the DASI open-access database of pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphy. Verification.
  • Online Dictionary of Old Arabic. Still in Alpha stage testing, and only includes vocabulary from the Safaitic inscriptions. Verification.


  • Modern Languages: English (fluent), Arabic (fluent, Levantine and MSA), Dutch (conversational, reading and writing), French (reading), German (reading), Italian (reading)
  • Classical Languages: Greek, Classical West Semitic languages, Akkadian (no cuneiform)