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Oct-29-2010 17:11printcomments

Selma Al-Radi's Life and the Amiriya Madrasa

Loss of Iraqi/American Archaeologist is felt by many...

Selma Al-Radi
Selma Al-Radi

(SALEM, Ore.) - Noted Iraqi archaeologist Selma Al-Radi passed away 7 October 2010. She was known by many and highly regarded for having spent more than twenty-years involved with the restoration of the Amiriya Madrasa, a sixteenth-century madrasa in Rada, Yemen, which is under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To carry out her work at Amiriya Madrasa in the 1970's, Selma Al-Radi enlisted the financial help of the Dutch and Yemeni governments in its restoration.

They used traditional materials instead of modern substitutes. Wikipedia explains how Italian restoration experts restored the murals, but local workers were trained and in time did more and more of the restoration work.

The New York Times described the project as "an immense undertaking" and the Madrasa as "one of the great treasures of Islamic art and architecture."

Wajdi Said, President and Co-Founder of the Muslim Educational Trust, tells her loss is significant.

Amiriya Madrasa

"It is of great sorrow to hear the news of the passing away of the great Iraqi-American Archeologist, Dr. Selma Al-Radi. I have known Dr. Al-Radi on a personal level for many years and have always admired her wonderful work. I had the honor to meet her in 1990 at the Middle East Studies Association Conference."

Said added, "Dr. Selma Al-Radi, you will be greatly missed."

In her life, Selma Al-Radi published two books on the Madrasa project, “The Amiriya in Rada: The History and Restoration of a Sixteenth-Century Madrasa in the Yemen” and “Amiriya Madrasa: The Conservation of the Mural Paintings.”

In 2007, Al-Radi and Yahya Al-Nasiri received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for their work in the restoration.[1][4] Al-Radi received the Yemen Presidential Medal of Culture in 2007.

Al-Radi was the sister of Nuha al-Radi, the author of "Baghdad Diaries." Al-Radi was married to Qais Al-Awqati, a Professor of Medicine and Physiology at Columbia University.

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