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OBITUARIES | Passings | George Atiyeh

Scholar and Mideast expert

May 05, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

George Atiyeh, 84, a librarian and scholar who acquired and developed much of the Library of Congress' renowned collection of publications concerning the Middle East, died April 21 of pneumonia at a nursing facility in Fairfax County, Va.

Atiyeh went to the Library of Congress in 1967 after an academic career that had taken him from his native Lebanon to the University of Chicago to Puerto Rico.

He served as head of the Near East Section for more than 25 years, managing the library's publications from and about the Arab world, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Fluent in five languages and familiar with a dozen others, Atiyeh was an international authority in Arabic studies and made frequent visits to the Middle East to acquire materials for the library.

From 1991 until 1994, Atiyeh was acting chief of the African and Middle East Division at the library. He retired in 1996 after having a stroke.

George Nicholas Atiyeh was born in Amioun, Lebanon. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the American University of Beirut in 1948 and 1950. In 1954, he received a doctorate in the history of philosophy, with a sub-specialty in ancient languages, from the University of Chicago.

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