Saturday, 13 May 2017
Trowelblazers - Hetty Goldman
Hetty Goldman has a very scanty biography on Wikipedia, but there's enough there to show that she was quite a remarkable woman. She was a member of the Goldman-Sachs banking family, born in 1881, and she took her BA in English at Bryn Mawr college in 1903, then decided that she would not follow a writing career because she felt she had nothing to say! She had already become interested in archaeology, and went on to gain her MA in archaeology and classical languages from Columbia University in 1910, when she had her first article published, The Orestia of Aeschylus as Illustrated by Greek Vase-Painting. This article was the major reason for her being the first woman to be awarded the Charles Eliot Norton Fellowship to attend the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. She worked and studied here from 1910 to 1912.
Her archaeological career was then disrupted by the Balkan Wars and First World War. She returned to New York City to work for the American Red Cross. She was asked by the American Joint Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to return to Greece for a report on the Jewish communities. However, she found time to gain her PhD in 1916, from Radcliffe College.
By 1922, she was working for the Fogg Museum, digging in Ionia and Central Greece. One of the sites she worked on was Colophon, then controlled by Turkey - and this dig was disrupted by the Greco-Turkish War! When the archaeologists returned to the site, they found that all the artefacts had been stolen. However, they had also discovered some of the earliest known Greek houses, and a drainage system of terracotta pipes.
She was the first woman to be appointed to run a dig by the Archaeological Institute of America. She dug widely across Turkey and the Mediterranean, and published many papers, including The Acropolis at Halae in 1940, showing the continuity between Semitic and Mediterranean cultures.
In 1936, she became one of the first professors of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. She became professor emerita in 1947, which was also the last year of her excavations at Tarsus. The site at Tarsus had been chosen specifically because it was likely to be a place where different cultures of the region had come together, an aim which was confirmed by the finding of Hittite royal seals and Mycenaean pottery in the same contexts.
In 1966 the Archaeological Institute of America awarded her a gold medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.
She died at Princeton in 1972, aged 90.
Apart from archaeology, she was active in sponsoring Jewish refugees escaping from Nazi Germany. Her family origins were German-Jewish, of course.