Since early in the last century, Penn has been an important research center for the art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world and Near East, including the study of the many peoples and cultures of the Etruscan, Greek and Roman world up into Late Antiquity. Courses and seminars are supported by the vast collections of the University Museum of Art and Archaeology; all of the ancient art faculty in History of Art hold curatorial or Research Consultant positions in either the Near Eastern or Mediterranean Sections of the Museum. The archaeologists and historians of ancient art and architecture at Penn conduct more than 50 research projects spanning five continents -- more than can be found at any other archaeological and anthropological program or museum in North America.
The study of ancient material and visual cultures is enhanced by Penn’s many interdisciplinary programs; for the cultures and eras of this section, faculty and students in History of Art engage actively with colleagues in Anthropology, Classical Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Historic Preservation, Architecture, Religious Studies, among others. And, like the specialists named in other sections of this web site -- the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Medieval and Byzantine Studies -- our people maintain close ties to the interdepartmental graduate programs in Art and Architecture of the Mediterranean World and in Ancient History. The opportunity for graduate students to take courses at Bryn Mawr and Princeton is an added enhancement to our ancient art histories. Penn’s Center for Ancient Studies, the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (at the Penn Museum) and the Cultural Heritage Center also support and enrich our programs. For students, the chance to train in digital skills ranging from GIS to 3-D architectural visualization, not least in courses in the Graduate School of Design, and working with the Price Digital Lab in the Museum, is a special enhancement. So too is the chance to learn in the Proseminars offered by Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, by Anthropology, and by Classical Studies.
Ann Kuttner focuses on Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique visual culture, as well as architecture and landscape architecture. Mantha Zarmakoupi, the Williams Professor in Roman Architecture, has written widely about Hellenistic and Roman architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism, with a special focus on the social, economic and cultural conditions underpinning design, but her interests cover all aspects of Greek, Roman and Etruscan visual and material culture, including the use of computer applications in their study. The Williams Chair in Roman Architecture makes Penn one of North America’s most important centers for that field. Brian Rose, Curator-in-Charge of the Mediterranean Section in the University Museum, has specialties in ancient art and archeology ranging from Bronze Age through the Roman era, with a specialization in Italy and Asia Minor. For the study of the `Late Antique’ metamorphosis of the Greco-Roman world, the department offers good strengths: Renata Holod has strong research interests in the earliest Islamic periods on 3 continents, spanning archaeology, architecture and urbanism, manuscript studies, and luxury arts.
Among our adjunct faculty, Ann Brownlee, of the Penn Museum’s Mediterranean Section, is a specialist in Greek vase painting. Betsey Bolman of Temple University focuses on Late Antique and Coptic Egypt. Penn’s Department of Classical Studies hosts other invaluable colleagues for History of Art’s ancient studies: Tom Tartaron is well-known for his research on ancient trade, ceramics, and the Aegean Bronze and Dark Ages; Kim Bowes is an accomplished archaeologist and art historian of Late Antiquity; and historians Cam Grey and Jeremy McInerney bring a strong archaeological sensibility to their work. Our colleagues in NELC and Anthropology who look at the long duration of human cultural development in the Near and Middle East, like Lauren Ristvet, make a strong contribution to Greco-Romanist students’ development, and Richard Leventhal brings us the special dimension of cultural heritage issues.