Norma Wynick Goldman (1922-2011), Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome (CSAAR), Visiting Scholar

October 12, 2011
Photo copyright by Star Black.
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Norma W. Goldman, an archeological scholar, Latinist and a longtime friend and Academy supporter, died on Friday, 30 Sept 2011. She was 89. She is survived by her son Mark, daughter-in- law Carolyn, and her grandchildren Liam and Grace.

Norma was a professor of Classics at Wayne State University, where she had graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned the distinguished alumni award in 1985. She taught at WSU for over 48 years, offering her expertise on a range of topics including Latin, Life in Ancient Rome, and Etymology. Her areas of interest included everything from Roman costume reconstruction and shows, underwater archaeology in the Mediterranean Sea (taken up in her seventies), to the study of ancient Roman oil lamps, and to producing educational and historic films with the BBC and NOVA.

She was actively involved in numerous projects and publications pertaining to the classical world up until her death. Her publications ranged from Latin textbooks such as the best-selling Latin via Ovid, to a survey of research on the Roman port town of Cosa, New Light from Ancient Cosa; The World of Roman Costume, to The Janus View from the American Academy in Rome: Essays on the Janiculum, a book she co-edited with Katherine A. Geffken, FAAR’55. The latter represented a collection of essays containing the most richly detailed history to date of Academy buildings and environs.

Norma’s most recent book published this year; My Dura-Europos: The Letters of Susan M. Hopkins, 1927–1935, was the result of a collaboration with her husband Bernard M. Goldman, to whom she was married for sixty-one years until his death in 2006. The book collects and contextualizes the correspondence of Susan Hopkins, who accompanied her husband, Clark Hopkins, to the archaeological dig at Dura-Europos, one of the most significant of the twentieth century. Founded by the Greeks in 300 BCE, Dura-Europos became a remote outpost of the Roman Empire in western Asia until it fell to the Persian army in the 3rd century CE and was destroyed. Rediscovered by British troops after World War I, its findings were catalogued and recorded by the Hopkins, who headed the excavations beginning in 1928. After Bernard’s death, Norma completed the manuscript and added over 200 rare illustrations of the site and the archaeologists involved.

While teaching, Norma was President of the Detroit Classical Association, President of the Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome, Secretary of the Antiquaries at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Regional Representative for the Classical Association of Middle West and South, and a tour leader for the Detroit Institute of Arts tours of Rome and the Bay of Naples area, and held many scholarly presentations including a recent one at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology. Additionally, she proudly participated in archaeological expeditions and studies at Caesarea in Israel and Persepolis in Iran.

Since 1980, Norma had been constant presence at the American Academy in Rome, as a CSAAR member and on and off as a Visiting Scholar.

Norma was curious, tireless and fun. When the BBC tapped her to be an on-screen expert for a program on the Colosseum, they dyed her white hair blond. “I’ve been a blond ever since,” she said.

Remembering Norma, Prof. T. Corey Brennan, FAAR'88, Mellon Professor-in-Charge of the School of Classical Studies at the American Academy in Rome, wrote:

"Norma Wynick Goldman was a truly gifted Latinist and had no equal as an interpreter of Roman daily life. She was an expert on Roman dress, and made her own exquisite designs, both ancient and modern. Norma was a leading light in the Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome, and visited the American Academy for 31 straight years. Her last visit was in fall 2010, where there was not a walk, talk, bus trip, lecture, conference, or concert that she missed.

“The Academy will be ever grateful to Norma Goldman for her transformative work on the Roman port colony of Cosa in southwestern Tuscany. With her beloved friend Cleo Fitch, in 1995 she produced a masterful study of the lamps of the site. This integrated more than four decades of finds that started with Frank Brown’s earliest excavations on the site into a landmark volume. Six years later, in tribute to Cleo Fitch, Norma edited the book New Light from Ancient Cosa. Here Norma brought together sixteen of the leading archaeologists of Cosa to write individual chapters on aspects of the site in which they were expert; Norma in her chapter brought alive a fascinating “New Year’s” lamp. This volume with its virtual reunion of Cosani is perhaps the best testament, alongside Brown’s own work, as to why this site remains America’s most important contribution to the study of Roman archaeology.

“We all have memories of Norma Goldman’s last visit to the Academy in 2010, where she was perhaps the most enthusiastic participant in the conference we staged on the legacy of the 1960 Rome Olympics. It was right up Norma’s alley, for the conference sought to combine the architectural, historical, technological, and human interest aspects of the events. Norma immediately bonded with the Olympic stars who spoke at the conference. First the gold medal track star Lucinda Williams Adams, whose daughter is a student at Wayne State University Law School; they arranged to meet in Detroit soon after the event. Then an instant friendship with decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson. She told Rafer that at the Academy “we have all adopted him as a son”, and she promised to support his Special Olympics program in California—since she already supported Special Olympics in Michigan. But by the end of the three days she had befriended everyone who spoke at the conference, from these Olympic stars to an Italian engineering professor who was a specialist on mid-20th century concrete.

“During the conference a group of some five dozen made a site visit to the Olympic Village of 1960 and the Foro Italico with its Olympic stadium. Norma immediately saw the Fascist-era mosaics of the Foro as derivative of those of the Square of the Corporations at Ostia, and the new concrete cover of the Olympic Stadium as based on that of the soft sailcloth that screened spectators in the Colosseum from the sun.

“This insistence for seeing antiquity and the modern age as a continuum, and the gift for bringing out the similarities as well as the differences between the Classical and the modern, is just one of the many things for which we all always miss Norma."