Johann Christoph “Jan” Assmann, the world’s foremost Egyptologist and a profound religious thinker and cultural historian, died on Monday at the age of 85.
Assmann was born in Langelsheim in Lower Saxony and grew up in Lübeck and Heidelberg. After studying Egyptology, classical archeology, and Greek studies in Munich, Heidelberg, Paris, and Göttingen, as well as doing fieldwork in Egypt, Assmann was appointed professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg in 1976, where he stayed until his retirement in 2003. Assmann then became Honorary Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Constance, where his wife Aleida Assmann taught English. Jan and Aleida raised five children and developed a theory of memory and cultural transmission. (more…)