GUTSCHMID, HERMANN ALFRED FREIHERR VON (b. Loschwitz near Dresden, 1 July 1831; d. Tübingen, 1 March 1887), classical scholar and ancient historian with a special interest in the Ancient Near East. Gutschmid began his studies in 1848 in Leipzig, where he obtained his doctorate in absentia in 1854, having in 1851 gone to Bonn to study. Among his teachers were many renowned German classical scholars and historians such as Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), Rudolph Fridrich Moriz Haupt (1808-74), Otto Jahn (1813-69), Chritian Lassen (1800-76), Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl (1806-76), and Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann (1785-1860). He held professorships in Kiel (1863), Königsberg (1873), Jena (1876), and Tübingen (1877). A number of his students in Tübingen later became distinguished scholars such as Julius Kaerst and Ulrich Wilcken. Gutschmid wrote few books and articles but numerous reviews on a wide variety of subject. As a reviewer he was greatly feared by many as a fierce critic. However, his feud against German Assyriologists, which assumed the proportions of a substantial book (Neue Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Orients: Die Assyriologie in Deutschland, Leipzig, 1876), was doomed to be unfruitful because of his inadequate grasp of the subject.

Gutschmid’s most important contribution to Iranian studies is his posthumously published Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer von Alexander dem Grossen bis zum Untergang der Arsaciden (Tübingen, 1888). He had contributed an article on the subject to the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (“Persia. Section II. Greek and Parthian Empires,” vol. 18, pp. 582-606), but since it had been substantially abridged by the editors, he formed the intention of publishing the complete version in German. Unfortunately, he died before he was able to prepare it for publication. His friend, Theodor Nöldeke, saw it through the press, but, as he explains in the preface, he felt obliged to leave the manuscript essentially as it was, although he clearly could not refrain from claiming priority for some of the ideas contained in the work.

After Gutschmid’s death Franz Rühl brought out a collection of his minor works entitled Kleine Schriften (5 vols., Leipzig, 1889-94). He included the fuller German original versions of three of the four substantial articles Gutschmid had contributed to the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, namely the articles on “Moses of Chorene,” “Phoenicia,” and “Scythia. Scythians.” The fifth volume of the Kleine Schriften contains a detailed and sympathetic biography of Gutschmid by Rühl (pp. IX-XXXII) as well as a complete bibliography (pp. 718-33).



The Encyclopædia Britannica XI, 14th ed., London and New York, p. 14.

Der Grsse Brockhaus VII, Leipzig, 1930, p. 786.

Neue deutsche Biographie XVII, Berlin, 1972, pp. 348-49.

(Ronald E. Emmerick)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 4, p. 410