Prof. Dr. Amida Sholan
Archaeologist, university teacher, Assistant Attaché for Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Yemen in Berlin
DAAD Scholarship 1989–1992, DAAD Scholarship 1995–1999
Germany has always attracted Amida Sholan – out of a love for her home: Yemen. Back in the 19th century, German scientists and researchers, in particular, already studied Old South Arabian History and Languages – leaving behind a wealth of important knowledge and literature written in German. "I wanted to have access to these sources as soon as possible," says the archaeologist.
I would not have been able to study without the DAAD.
Amida Sholan was born in Taiz, Yemen, in 1964. While more than two thirds of the women were illiterate, she went to the Yarmuk University in Jordan with a DAAD scholarship from 1989 to 1992 to study Yemeni archaeology. This marked the first step towards Germany, because the university engaged in exchange with German scientists and researchers.
"I would not have been able to study without the DAAD," she recalls. Nor could she have done this without the consent of her husband. Nor did he mind when his wife, after briefly working as a lecturer at the University of Sana'a, went to the University of Marburg to do a doctorate there. In 1999, Amida Sholan returned to the University of Sana'a, initially as a Supernumerary Professor, and as from 2005 as an Associate Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Languages at the University of Sana'a.
She interrupted her teaching there in early 2008 to take up a position at the Cultural Affairs Section of the Embassy of Yemen in Berlin. As Assistant Attaché for Academic Affairs and Administrative Questions, she supported students from Yemen studying in Germany – and recommended that they made the most of their time there and established as many contacts as possible. Although Amida Sholan enjoyed living in Berlin, she was still homesick for Sana'a. That is why she eventually returned to the University of Sana'a. From September 2013 to September 2015, however, she took leave to conduct research at the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures (KAAK), an independent research department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) based in Bonn.
The archaeology professor’s concern about her home is also demonstrated by the “damage report” that she presented on the Quantara.de website in June 2015 in the light of the ongoing civil war. Sholan described the destruction of significant historical buildings and cultural monuments in Yemen, highlighting the fact that not only is the list of war damage long, but the remaining cultural heritage continues to be threatened. “The more the current conflict spreads, the greater the threat to ancient cities and other historical places, where combat units are digging in – with catastrophic effects,” wrote the expert, who has been a German citizen since 2013 and is living in Germany because of the political situation in Yemen.