Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Asian Studies

Second Department


Reader 1

Arash Khazeni

Reader 2

Samuel Anderson

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Rights Information

© 2020 Adin I Becker


Modern Egypt began as a site for academic exploration and exploitation. Its tremendous archeological riches, indisputable centrality within the world of Islam, and complex multifaceted cultural makeup have piqued the interests of academics worldwide. For centuries, scholars have fantasized about “what lay beyond the water,” a land where they knew “colossal relics of the oldest-known human civilization were concentrated along the Nile in crumbling piles between two vast, usurping deserts, amidst a modern population that professed faith in Islam.”1 Absent material motives, however, Egypt long remained a land of mystery for the West, ripe for discovery and exploration. Egypt’s obscurity to the West has never, however, indicated complete isolation. Indeed, multiple dynasties, empires, and religions have laid claim to The River Nile’s fertile banks and delta, and Egyptian society has been transformed considerably as a result. Most significant is the start of Egypt’s Islamization in the seventh century; a process that significantly diminished the influence of competing cultures and religions. Thus, the demographic makeup that existed at the beginning of Egypt’s modern period in the early 16th century and which still exists today does not reflect the land’s eternal status quo.