The papers of Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki, 1904-2017 (bulk 1951-1999) primarily document their archaeological excavations and subsequent analysis of Near East sites including Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq; Yabroud, Syria; and Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon primarily during the 1950s-1980s. The papers also include their work at other sites throughout the Near East and North America and files relating to the professional careers at the Smithsonian Institution, Columbia University, and Texas A&M University. The collection consists of field notes, data and analysis, manuscript drafts, publications, correspondence, illustrations and maps, photographic prints, negatives, slides, and recorded film.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki document their archaeological excavations and subsequent analysis of Near East sites including Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq; Yabroud, Syria; Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon primarily during the 1950s-1980s. The papers also reflect their academic careers as students and faculty at Columbia University, staff at the Smithsonian Institution, and adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University.
The bulk of the collection consists of materials relating to the Soleckis' archaeological excavations at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq (1951-1960); Yabroud, Syria and locations in Turkey as part of the Columbia University Near East expeditions (or C.U.N.E.) (1963-1965, 1981, 1987-1988); Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon (1969-1973). These materials include field notebooks, excavation catalogs, research notes, data analysis, manuscript drafts, publications, correspondence, illustrations, maps, photographs, slides, sound recordings, and film. Similar materials from other expeditions and projects include aerial photography projects in the 1950s-1960s; expeditions to Alaska in 1949 and 1961; expeditions to Sudan (as part of the Columbia University Nubian Expedition, also abbreviated C.U.N.E.) and Iran in the 1960s-1970s; Rose's work in Peru and Afghanistan in the 1950s; and various archaeological projects elsewhere in North America such as Ralph's work with the River Basin Surveys in the 1940s-1950s contain similar materials.
The papers also contain research and teaching files in the form of annotated publications, course materials, student theses, and other files from their time as students and faculty at Columbia University, staff at the Smithsonian Institution, and adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University. Correspondence and administrative files such as grant applications, daybooks, and departmental forms and files from their professional careers are also within the collection. Personal files, while sparse, are also represented.
Please note that the collection contains images of human remains.
The Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki papers are divided into 7 series:
• Series 1: Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq, 1947-2017 (bulk 1951-1990)
• Series 2: Yabroud, Syria and Other Localities, 1950-2017 (bulk 1964-1988)
• Series 3: Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon, 1968-2008 (bulk 1969-1973)
• Series 4: Other Expeditions and Projects, 1930-1986, 2006
• Series 5: Research and Teaching Files, 1912-2012 (bulk 1950-2000)
• Series 6: Correspondence and Administrative Files
• Series 7: Personal Files
Biographical / Historical:
Ralph S. Solecki (1917-2019) and Rose L. Solecki (b. 1925) are archaeologists that worked in the Near East at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar in northern Iraq (1951-1960); Yabroud, Syria (1963-1965, 1981, 1987); and Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh in Lebanon (1969-1973). Ralph Solecki also conducted archaeological field work in North America at sites in Nebraska, Alaska, and New York as well as with the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Surveys. From 1958-1988, Ralph Solecki was a professor of anthropology at Columbia University. The Soleckis became adjunct faculty at Texas A&M University.
Stefan Ralph Solecki was born on October 15th, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Newtown High School in 1936, he attended the City College of New York from 1936-1941 and received a B.S. in Geology in 1942. Solecki then served in the US Army and fought in World War II. He was discharged in 1945. In 1946, Solecki enrolled at Columbia University to study Anthropology, and he received a M.A. degree in 1950. During this time, Solecki worked for the River Basin Surveys at the Smithsonian Institution. He also accompanied a geological survey to northern Alaska in 1949 (and later in 1961). In 1951, he became an associate curator of archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. In that same year, he traveled to Iraq to survey prehistoric sites and began Season I of excavation at Shanidar Cave. Solecki then received a Fulbright fellowship to return to Iraq in 1953-1954 to continue excavations at Shanidar Cave (Season II) and conduct research at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. In 1958, he received his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and accepted a faculty position within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Following the final two seasons of excavation at Shanidar Cave (see below for details on Season III and IV), Solecki led a number of Columbia University expeditions to various locations around the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. He also spent three seasons (1963-1964, 1981, 1987) surveying and excavating the site of Yabroud in Syria and three field seasons excavating the sites of Nahr Ibrahim (1969, 1970, 1973) and El Masloukh (1969) in Lebanon. Solecki retired from Columbia University in 1988.
Rose Muriel (née Lilien) Solecki was born on November 18th, 1925 in New York City, New York. She completed her undergraduate studies in Anthropology from Hunter College in 1945, and she went on to receive her M.A. and PhD degrees in Anthropology from Columbia University. While at Columbia, she joined the American Museum of Natural History's 2nd expedition to Afghanistan in 1950. She also studied under William Duncan Strong and joined Strong's excavations in Peru from 1952-1953. Rose Solecki acted as a research associate within the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University until Ralph Solecki's retirement in 1988.
Ralph and Rose met at Columbia University as students and married in 1955. In 1956-1957, both Ralph and Rose Solecki travelled to Iraq, where Ralph conducted a third season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Rose excavated the nearby Zawi Chemi Shanidar village site. In 1960, the Soleckis returned for a fourth and final field season of excavation at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar, where they were accompanied by Smithsonian Institution curator of Physical Anthropology, T. Dale Stewart. Ralph and Rose Solecki both held positions at Columbia University until Ralph's retirement in 1988. In 1990, Ralph and Rose served as adjunct professors at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In 2000, they left Texas A&M University and moved to South Orange, New Jersey.
Ralph Solecki died in Livingston, New Jersey on March 20, 2019.
Chronology of the Life of Ralph S. Solecki
1917 October 15 -- Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
1942 -- B.S. in Geology from City College of New York
1942-1945 -- Served in the United States Army during World War II
1948 -- Started working with the Smithsonian Institution's River Basin Surveys
1948-1949 -- Accompanied a United States Geological Survey party to the upper Kokpowruk and Kokolik rivers at the Brooks Range in northwestern Alaska
1950 -- M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University
1951 -- First field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq
1953-1954 -- Fulbright fellowship to conduct fieldwork in Iraq Second field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq Shanidar Child skeleton discovered
1955 -- Married Rose M. Lilien
1956-1957 -- Third field season at Shanidar Cave, Iraq Shanidar I, II, and III skeletons discovered
1958 -- Appointed Associate Curator of Archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University Accepted post at Columbia University as Associate Professor of Anthropology
1960 -- Fourth field season at Shanidar Cave Shanidar IV, V, VI, VII (or IV-VII), and VIII skeletons discovered
1961-1962 -- Columbia University Nubian Expedition to Sudan
1963 -- Columbia University Near East (C.U.N.E.) Expedition to Seberde, Turkey and Yabroud, Syria
1964-1965 -- Columbia University Near East (C.U.N.E.) Expedition to Yabroud, Syria
1969-1973 -- Three field seasons at Nahr Ibrahim and El Masloukh, Lebanon
1971 -- Authored Shanidar: The First Flower People
1981 -- Archaeological survey at Yabroud, Syria
1987-1988 -- Field season at Yabroud, Syria
1988 -- Retired from Columbia University
1990-2000 -- Served as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University
2004 -- Coauthored The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave with Rose L. Solecki and Anagnostis P. Agelarakis
2019 March 20 -- Died in Livingston, New Jersey
Chronology of the Life of Rose L. Solecki
1925 November 18 -- Born in New York City, New York
circa 1945 -- B.S. in Anthropology at Hunter College
1946 -- Enrolled at Columbia University
1950 -- Joined the American Museum of Natural History's Second Archaeological Expedition to Afghanistan
1952-1953 -- Field season in Peru under William Duncan Strong
1956 -- PhD from Columbia University
1956-1957 -- First field season at Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq
1960 -- Second field season at Zawi Chemi Shanidar, Iraq
1990-2000 -- Served as Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University
2004 -- Coauthored The Proto-Neolithic Cemetery in Shanidar Cave with Ralph S. Solecki and Anagnostis P. Agelarakis
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology contains archaeological and ethnological collections relating to the work of Ralph and Rose Solecki including accession numbers 187539, 187542, 189439, 202536, 209544, 217009, 220078, 220920, 224347, 224956, 228740, 232170, 242336, 249217, 356696.
Accession 220078 contains archaeological and archaeobiological material excavated by Ralph and Rose Solecki at Shanidar Cave and Zawi Chemi Shanidar. An accretion transferred in 2016 was cataloged as part of the Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki Papers and Artifacts Project (2017-2019) and cross-references excavation and artifact analysis within the Solecki papers.
Archaeological and archival material related to the Soleckis work in New York and surrounding localities are housed at the American Museum of Natural History.
Materials containing personally identifiable information (PII) and born digital materials have been separated, and research access is restricted. In some instances, documents have been copied and redacted; however, in other cases, the entire file has been restricted. Please contact the repository for more information about restricted materials.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Ralph and Rose Solecki and their sons, John and William, in 2016, 2018, and 2019.