David Ayalon

David Ayalon (1914 – 25 June 1998) was an Israeli historian of Islam and the Middle East, specializing in the Mamluk dynasties of Egypt. Within Israel he was best known for the Arabic-Hebrew dictionary he co-compiled in 1947.

David Ayalon
David Neustadt

Died25 June 1998(1998-06-25) (aged 84)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorLeo Aryeh Mayer
Other academic advisorsShelomo Dov Goitein


Born David Neustadt in Haifa, he grew up in Zichron Ya'akov and Rosh Pinah. After completing secondary school in Haifa, Ayalon went in 1933 to study at the recently founded Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Despite service in the British Army during World War II, he gained his PhD in 1946 under the supervision of Leo Aryeh Mayer. In the late 1940s he changed his name to David Ayalon.[1]

Ayalon founded the department of modern Middle East studies there in 1949, and was its head until 1956. From 1963 to 1967 he led the Institute of Asian and African Studies at the Hebrew University.[2]


  • (with Pesach Shinar) Arabic-Hebrew Dictionary of Modern Arabic, 1947.
  • Gunpowder and firearms in the Mamluk kingdom: a challenge to a mediaeval society, 1956
  • Studies on the Mamlūks of Egypt (1250–1517), 1977
  • The Mamlūk military society, 1979
  • Outsiders in the lands of Islam: Mamluks, Mongols, and eunuchs, 1988
  • Islam and the abode of war: military slaves and Islamic adversaries, 1994
  • Eunuchs, caliphs and sultans: a study in power relationships, 1999


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