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December 19: Hetty Goldman and Ancient Greece

December 19, 2014

hettyobjectHetty Goldman, an archaeologist who was the first woman appointed as professor at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies, was born in New York on this date in 1881. (One grandfather was Marcus Goldman, a founder of Goldman Sachs; another was the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El.) She studied archaeology at Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe before becoming the first woman to be awarded the Charles Eliot Norton Fellowship to attend the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. Goldman helped pioneer the investigation of pre-Greek and early Greek culture and did several excavations at Tarsus, in Turkey, which established links to the ancient Hittite kingdom. She also did a great deal of Jewish relief work, particularly in Thessalonika, which had been devastated by the great fire of 1917. In 1936, after spending some twenty-five years on excavation sites, Goldman joined the Institute for Advanced Studies, and used that as a base for saving many Jewish refugees from Nazism. She died in Princeton at the age of 90. The citation of her 1966 Gold Medal from the Archaeological Institute of America called her “a perceptive and witty student of human relations, a renowned Anatolian specialist and the dean of Classical and Near Eastern archaeology in this country.”

“Nobody can study the prehistory of Greece without becoming aware almost immediately that the fecund breezes which blow out of the east were largely responsible for its early growth and development. So it is perhaps natural that a prehistorian sooner or later turns his eyes to Asia Minor for the solution to the problem of cultural origins in Greece and also for the study of the repercussions of prehistoric Greek culture upon the country from which it derived.” —Hetty Goldman