Hans G. Goedicke

Hans G. Goedicke was a renowned Egyptologist who had been chairman of the Johns Hopkins University's department of Near Eastern studies.

Hans G. Goedicke, a renowned Egyptologist who had been chairman of the Johns Hopkins University's department of Near Eastern studies, died of cancer Feb. 24 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The Tuscany-Canterbury resident was 88.


"He had retired by the time I came to Hopkins in 1995, but he was still very much a presence in the department," said Egyptologist Richard L. Jasnow.

"He was certainly one of the most productive modern Egyptologists, whose range and interests covered almost the entire span of Egyptian history. He is particularly known for his work on the Old Kingdom, the Pyramid Age," said Dr. Jasnow, who lives in Guilford. "Hans and his work were internationally known. He was very hardworking."


The son of Erich Goedicke, an engineer, and Alice von Schuller-Goetzburg Goedicke, a homemaker, Dr. Goedicke was born in Vienna and was a child there at the outbreak of World War II.

"They were difficult years," he said in a 2008 interview with Zoe Lintzeris, the daughter of George Lintzeris, who had been a graduate student of Dr. Goedicke's at Hopkins.

In 1942, at age 16, he was drafted into the German Army.

"Not Nazi, just German," he told Ms. Lintzeris.

After the war ended, Dr. Goedicke entered the University of Vienna, where he earned his doctorate in 1949, and then worked as an assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1949 to 1951. From 1952 to 1957, he was a research assistant at Brown University and then spent a year as a technical assistant for UNESCO, working on digs at the Temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt.

Before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1960 as a lecturer in the department of Near Eastern studies, he had spent two years the University of Goettingen in Germany.

He was promoted to assistant professor at Hopkins in 1962 and to associate professor four years later. In 1968, he attained full professor status and was acting chairman of the department from 1968 to 1969.

Dr. Goedicke chaired the department from 1969 to 1973, and again from 1979 to 1984.


"If you teach, especially as a foreigner, you hope to … convey one's own interest to others," Dr. Goedicke told Ms. Lintzeris. "My aim is to convey the humanity of ancient Egypt."

He conducted an epigraphic survey in Aswan, Gharb Aswan and Gebel Tingar in 1964 and 1967, and was field director of Hopkins' excavations in Giza in 1972 and 1974. He also was director of the Hopkins survey in the Wadi Tumilat in 1977, 1978 and 1981.

"Many students found him difficult to understand because of his Austro-German accent. But he had a great subtle sense of humor with which he used to transmit a great deal of information," said Mr. Lintzeris, a Guilford resident and art dealer.

"He was always very approachable, responsive to students, and especially helpful if a student was having difficulty deciphering hieroglyphics," said Mr. Lintzeris. "His theories were based on archaeological and geographical texts, and he seldom went out on a limb."

After 20 years of study of archaeological and historical sources, primarily from the reign of Hatshepsut in the 15th century B.C., Dr. Goedicke announced in 1981 his conclusion that the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt took place 200 years earlier than previously thought, and coincided with a volcanic eruption at the city of Thera on the Mediterranean island of Santorini.

He said that the Exodus took place in 1477 B.C. during the time of Hatshepsut, who was a woman.


"If this revised date is correct, it is possible to account for the waters that drowned the Egyptian forces as the consequence of the tidal wave, an established natural phenomenon, rather than as the result of divine intervention to allow the Israelites to escape," wrote John Noble Wilford in 1981 in The New York Times.

Dr. Goedicke said the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus story was most likely caused by the volcanic eruption at Thera, located 70 miles north of Crete, which in the spring of 1477 B.C. flooded low coastal lands in Egypt.

Dr. Goedicke told The New York Times at the time his research was the first "solid historical evidence for fixing the date of the Exodus" and that his findings "verify the biblical account to an unexpected degree, which is significant, as there is a tendency to consider the Exodus account as fiction."

He based his conclusion on a royal inscription that was discovered above the entrance to a shrine to the Goddess Pakht. He explained there were similarities between the inscription and the Exodus account in the Bible.

Dr. Goedicke further elaborated on his controversial theory in his book "Egypt and the Early History of Israel."

The books, monographs and articles listed in Dr. Goedicke's curriculum vitae runs to an impressive 26 pages.


"He was extremely productive — amazingly productive — and very hardworking. He had a very impressive mind and a deep historical knowledge of Egyptology," said Dr. Jasnow. "Hans had an enormous range of interests and a very powerful intellect. He always asked probing questions and made people think."

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Dr. Goedicke was a member of the Egyptian Exploration Society in London and was a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute.

Dr. Goedicke had amassed a large library, which he donated to the University of Madrid.

Dr. Goedicke and his wife, the former Lucy McLaughlin, a Hopkins librarian, whom he married in 1969, enjoyed their collection of Egyptian antiquities, rugs, teacups and saucers, and a series of 1740 topographical prints of Viennese buildings and scenes.

Dr. Goedicke enjoyed caring for the azaleas and dahlias that he planted in the garden of his Cloverhill Road home. He also enjoyed sipping good wine and spending time at a second home in Embach, Austria, where he had a vineyard.

Services are private.


In addition to his wife, he is survived by several nieces and nephews.