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Professor Profile: Dr. Donald Redford

Professor Profile is a new feature here at Onward State where we find interesting professors at Penn State, talk with them, and share their stories. Do you know an interesting professor that would make for a great Professor Profile? Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know!

A colossal statue from the lost temple of Akhenaten, one of Redford's archeological digs. King Akhenaten was "the most controversial figure in all of Egyptian history."
A colossal statue from the lost temple of Akhenaten, one of Redford's archeological digs. King Akhenaten was "the most controversial figure in all of Egyptian history."

Egyptology is probably one of the least popular fields of study on the University Park campus. But, with professors like Dr. Donald Redford, there’s very little reason for it. The archeologist and Egyptologist has gone on numerous excavations and written plenty of books – he actually won the 1993 “Best Scholarly Book in Archaeology” award for his work Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times . Currently, Dr. Redford is the director of the Akhenaten Temple Project along with his wife, who is also a professor here. And luckily for his students, he brings his experiences, and more importantly his love and enthusiasm for his research, to every one of his classes.

Students have called him “great,” “absolutely the best professor ever,” and even “adorable.” Saying, “He teaches you things from his own discoveries. His lectures are basically stories told in chronological order.” He has even been credited with turning a would-be annoying gen-ed into his students’ favorite class. You can tell from our quick interview (after the jump) with the native Canadian (don’t hold that against him) that this is a professor worth having.

1. What would students be surprised to know about your classes?

That I am a maverick, but that my delivery is rooted in a Victorian style and a Victorian dialect of English; but that I have also threatened to come down to their level and deliver a lecture in Ebonics.

2. What about Egyptology made you want to be a professor and study it as a career?

The inherent excitement of the discipline and its close relationship to Biblical, classical, and African studies.

3. What’s the best thing about your classes?

I am a lenient marker (so I’m told).

4. What is the most interesting thing you’ve discovered through your research?

The earliest temple of the great monotheist Pharaoh, Akhenaten which we discovered and excavated at Luxor in 1975-1991.

The great thing about Dr. Redford and his classes is that he doesn’t have to try to make students enjoy them. The combination of a winning personality and abundant, exhaustive knowledge make his classes worth taking – whether or not you have to. So, if it’s not too late, get onto to eLion and sign up for CAMS 020, an introduction and general overview of everything Egypt, or CAMS 490, a basic overview of less commonly used Ancient Mediterranean languages like Egyptian and Sanskrit. You won’t regret it.

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About the Author

Caitlin Silver

Caitlin is from a small Pennsylvania town called Unionville, which is by West Chester, which is by Philadelphia. She is a sophomore in the Smeal College of Business and will probably major in accounting. Caitlin loves "How I Met Your Mother" and dougnuts.

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