Visiting Fulbright Scholar Teaching Courses on Ancient Egypt
Hanna Merzbach BA ’20, Mia Eichel BA ’20 and Zoey Steel BA ’19 contributed to this story.
Professor Rasha Soliman, a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, is teaching courses on ancient Egypt and archaeology this spring as part of the college’s Middle East and North African studies (MENA) minor. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Helwan University in Cairo, and is an associate professor and vice dean for education and student affairs at Misr University for Science and Technology.
Offered through the classics program, Soliman’s Ancient Egypt course will count toward the history major, as well as the MENA minor.
“The course highlights the changes and developments of Egyptian civilization over roughly 3,000 years,” said Soliman. “We’re covering what each era is famous for, so we’ll touch on literature, art, and architecture.”
Soliman is also teaching Ancient Egyptian Archaeology, an advanced course that focuses on archaeological techniques in relation to ancient Egyptian sites. The course covers funerary archaeology, which focuses on tombs and pyramids, and religious archaeology, centering on temples.
Owen Wohlforth BA ’19, a music major and MENA minor from Lyme, New Hampshire, is taking Soliman’s archaeology course this spring. As Wohlforth plans to write his thesis about Ancient Egyptian music, he is thrilled to use Soliman as a resource.
“I’ll be looking at the instruments that have been found in tombs, looking at ancient depictions of music, trying to decipher between poetry and song,” said Wohlforth. “When Rasha [visited] my Islam in the Modern World class [last semester], I was really excited because she has firsthand knowledge of the sites and archaeological digs that I am so interested in.”
When not teaching, Soliman researches archaeological sites in Egypt. She is currently working to document tombs in a part of Egypt called Luxor, known as Thebes in ancient times.
“These tombs have been neglected because of their lack of mural scenes and treasures,” explained Soliman. “I hope I can record them for future scholars. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. As an archaeologist, you’re trying to figure out a civilization you can no longer see—you’re trying to understand it and learn why it was great.”
“The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program is such a great opportunity for U.S. institutions to expand their offerings, internationalize their campuses, and expose the community to new information and perspectives,” said Kelly Delfatti, director of Sponsored Research at Lewis & Clark.
Soliman is one of two Middle Eastern Fulbright Scholars-in-Residence in the Pacific Northwest this year. The college hosts five to ten scholars-in-residence most years. Last year the music department sponsored Conductor Desmond Earley from Ireland, and the Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Office and the biology department hosted Douglas and Hope Simbeye from Dorobo Safaris—the college’s East Africa program partner in Tanzania.