Top German Iranologist Heidemarie Koch dies at 79

January 29, 2022 - 18:50

TEHRAN – Prominent German Iranologist Heidemarie Koch, who wrote over 20 great books and numerous articles about ancient Iran, has passed away at the age of 79.

Arkeolojik Haber, a Turkish website for archaeological news, made the announcement on Friday in a report that did not mention any details about the cause of her death.

Koch studied mathematics as her major between 1963 and 1966. Subsequently, she worked as a teacher until 1972 in Hannover.

In 1972, she started Iranian studies at the University of Gottingen and received her doctorate in 1976. The topic of her dissertation under Walther Hinz was “Religious Conditions under Darius I with Reference to the Elamite Tablets of Persepolis”. 

Koch took as her minor subjects classical archaeology, Byzantine art history and Christian archaeology.

From 1977 to 1986, she was employed by the Department of Iranian Studies and Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Gottingen. 

In 1986, at the University of Marburg, she worked on the labor administration and the economy in the Persian heartland at the time of the Achaemenids, after which she taught as a lecturer. 

In 1990-91, Koch worked on research projects funded by the German Research Foundation. Between 1993 and 94, she taught for two semesters as a substitute professor at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. 

Since 1995, she was a professor of Iranian studies in the context of ancient history at the University of Marburg.

Her main subject areas were the Persian history and Persian languages of the pre-Islamic period. She laid special emphasis on the cultural and economic history, management and religion. 

She utilized both written sources and archaeological remains. A second research focus was the exploration of Elam and its neighboring regions, especially in terms of the influences that they exerted on the subsequent Persian Empire.

She was married to the Christian archaeologist Guntram Koch.

The Persian literary monthly Bokhara honored Heidemarie for her lifetime achievements during a ceremony at the Mahmud Afshar Foundation in Tehran in 2014.

Her spouse, and many Iranian scholars including Hekmatollah Mollasalehi and Jaleh Amuzgar, attended the ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony, Heidemarie said that she was a teacher of mathematics but became familiar with archeology when she married Guntram, who was studying archaeology at university.

Her interest in archaeology led her to study in that field and then she learned Persian and began her studies about Iran.

“It took a long time for me to travel to Iran and see Persepolis. When I was asked if what I saw was like what I read about Iran, I was happy to say yes. I visited Persepolis several times afterwards, yet still I like it,” she added.

Photo: A file photo shows Heidemarie Koch smiling during a ceremony held in Tehran on May 29, 2014, to honor the German Iranologist. Archaeologist Guntram Koch, who is Heidemarie’s husband, is also seen in the photo. (ISNA/Borna Qasemi)

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