William Zimmerle

Senior Lecturer, Arts and Humanities; Affiliated Faculty Member of the Arab Crossroads Studies Program and History Program Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: PhD University of Pennsylvania; MDiv Harvard University Divinity School; BA Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus; Visiting Student Drew University; PgCert University of Edinburgh School of Law

Research Areas: Arabian Aromatics; Ancient World; Heritage Law and Policy; Near Eastern and Arabian Archaeology; Assyriology and Biblical studies; Museum Provenance; Digital Humanities; Inter-Religious Dialogue; Semitic Epigraphy and Rock Art; GCC Heritage Tourism

William Gerard Zimmerle is the PI (and Founder) of the Research Project at NYUAD: Ra'eha رائحة : The Digital Heritage Library of Arabian Incense, Perfumes, and Fine Fragrances.

He currently directs ethnography projects that document the ceramic and stone production of incense burners in the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa, sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, and by the Sultanate of Oman. Additionally, he has directed a cultural heritage project and traveling exhibition on rock art in 2016 - 2019: The Dhofar Rock Art & Arabian Inscriptions Project: A Digital Humanities Initiative in the Sultanate, which was under the auspices of the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, Diwan of the Royal Court, The Palace, in the Sultanate of Oman. 

He completed his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014, where he specialized in Near Eastern Archaeology, Ancient History, Biblical studies, and Semitic Epigraphy. As part of his dissertation, he conducted extensive research on the Arabian incense trade from its earliest beginnings through the early Islamic period in the Near East Section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He holds a graduate certificate in African Studies (Ethiopic languages) from Penn’s Center for African Studies and a post-graduate certificate (PgCert) in Intellectual Property law from the University of Edinburgh School of Law in Scotland.

He is currently a Special Lecturer and Advisor in Near Eastern Studies and Heritage Diplomacy at Fairleigh Dickinson University's Graduate School of Public and Global Affairs where he teaches graduate-level training courses and webinars on World Heritage Law and Policy, and Climate Change Policy, for diplomatic staff at the United Nations. He is also a faculty member of the Humanities Research Institute at NYUAD.

He is the past recipient of numerous external fellowships and awards including the Sylvan C. and Pamela Coleman Curatorial Research Fellow in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan; the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in the History of Art at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan; the Terrace Research Associate in Egyptian Art in the Department of Art of the Ancient World at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA; Visiting Scholar in Religion (Ethiopic Studies and Early Christianity) at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ; the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center Research Fellow in Heritage at Washington, DC and Muscat, Oman; the Educational and Cultural Affairs Fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; the American Institute of Yemeni Studies Research Fellow; the American Institute of Archaeology/Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Exchange Fellow in the Oriental Department in Berlin, Germany; and the United States Fulbright Commission Post-Doctoral Fellow at Dhofar University, the Sultanate of Oman. 

He is the recent award recipient of the 2023 Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.

He previously taught as an Assistant Professor of Social Science (Sociology and World History) at Dhofar University in Salalah; Assistant Professor of Humanities (Digital Emphasis) in Religion and Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University; Visiting Professor of Writing at NYUAD; Lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Jerusalem through the Ages; The Bible and Archaeology) at the University of Pennsylvania; and Adjunct Lecturer of Archaeology and Geography (Introduction to Archaeology) at Rowan University in New Jersey. He also taught two courses in summer sessions, Introduction to Philosophy and World History I, at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. Prior to these positions, he was the Inter-Religious Dialogue Coordinator at the Boston Theological Institute (1999 - 2000), and a Hospital Chaplain in the Department of Pastoral Care/Social Work at the Boston Medical Center (1998 - 1999), while a graduate student in religious studies at Harvard University.

His academic research interests are interdisciplinary and include the following: Pre-Islamic and early Islamic material culture of the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa; Arabian incense burners; the history of perfumes and scents; organic residue analysis (LC-MS) and the frankincense trade; the history of the Bible and Assyriology; intellectual property and cultural heritage law; archaeological tourism and sustainable development; the archaeology and history of first millennium BC Mesopotamia, Arabia, and the Levant; epigraphic South Arabian languages; Arabian and East African rock art; and all aspects of Digital Humanities including GIS, Remote Sensing, and 3D imaging of material culture for heritage preservation.

Courses Taught