With these principles to guide her, Jidejian worked hard
and fast. Despite her other responsibilities, she earned her BA in archaeology
and history in 1963 and graduated with her MA in 1965. She produced a
groundbreaking dissertation on Byblos that so impressed the faculty that
her professors encouraged her to pursue publication.
At this juncture, Jidejian insists, luck played a large role in her life,
as she believes it does in all lives. Standing timidly inside the Jesuit
Brothers Publishing House with her revised thesis under her arm, she learned
that the publishers were currently working on a series of English language
books on Lebanons archaeological sites. Whether it was due to luck
or the quality of her research and writing, her thesis was immediately
accepted as part of this project and, once published in 1966, received
Jidejian has since written books on all of Lebanons famous archaeological
sites, as well as a book on the Michel Eddé coin collection and
a companion to Liban lautre rive, an exposition in Paris. These
works have earned praise from noted academics worldwide, as well as from
the presidents of Greece and Lebanon.
One might ask, after thirty years and fifteen books, what more is there
to write about? This question would never occur to Jidejian. When asked
how she came to write her most recent book, Animals of Lebanon in Antiquity,
from A to Z, she answered with two very simple statements. First
of all, I love animals. And, its never been done before. These
two principles, a love of her material and a desire to investigate new
topics, keep both her interest and her writing fresh and alive. Jidejian
varies her audience as well, reaching beyond academic circles. Animals
of Lebanon in Antiquity is more of a picture book than anything else and
is intended to be something interesting for all ages.
What is very rewarding is that I learn as I write, explains
Jidejian. While researching depictions of ancient animals in museum objects
and mosaics, she discovered the importance of specific animals to various
cultures. With obvious delight, she explained in detail her findings on
the symbolic meaning of the vulture to ancient Egyptian civilization.
Every day I realize I know nothing, she says in complete solemnity.
You always have more to learn.
This is clearly a heartfelt sentiment. Having already learned enough to
filland writea book on Sidon, Jidejian is returning to this
ancient site for a fresh analysis. She is currently working on a revised,
enlarged edition of her Sidon work, incorporating new research and recent
findings. She describes these new developments the way a mystery writer
might explain the exciting plot twistings of their upcoming whodunit and,
indeed, Jidejian really does bring out the story in history.
Having remained in Lebanon throughout the war years, Jidejian has lived
through some very traumatic experiences. The beautiful home in Yarzé
that she shared with her husband until his death in 1989 sits in what
was called the Triangle of Death, where bombing from the sea and the mountains
converged for fifteen years. Throughout this long and violent period,
Jidejian continued to research and publish, though her access to AUB was
completely cut off during that time. She used the resources at the Bibliothèque
Oriental to continue her work, but risked her life every time she made
a visit to her publisher, the Jesuit Brothers.
Speaking with obvious respect and affection, she describes her late husbands
philosophy that kept them in Lebanon throughout the war. I have
seen the good days of Lebanon and Lebanon has made me, Dr. Jidejian
used to say. He would not abandon his home. Thankfully, Nina Jidejian
has not abandoned her home either, and she continues to provide the world
with new perspectives of Lebanon, based on sound research and presented
with the fresh eye of a lifelong student.