Joan Breton Connelly is a classical archaeologist whose scholarship focuses on Greek art, archaeology, myth, and religion. A cultural historian, she examines topics ranging from female agency, to ritual space, landscape, life cycles, rites of passage, identity, reception, and performance. A graduate of Princeton University in Classics, she took her PhD in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College where she later served as an Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate College. She now serves on Bryn Mawr’s Board of Trustees.
Connelly’s book Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece (2007) challenges long held beliefs concerning the “invisibility” of women in ancient Greece and brings together far-flung evidence for women’s leadership roles in the religious life of the city. It won the Archaeological Institute of America’s James R. Wiseman Book Award, the Association of American Publishers’ Prize for Best Book in Classics and Ancient History, and was named by the New York Times Book Review as a “Notable Book of 2007.” Prof. Connelly has taught this material in her undergraduate Honors Seminar “Recovering the Social History of Greek Priestesses: Curating an Exhibition.”
In 1996, Prof. Connelly published “Parthenon and Parthenoi: A Mythological Interpretation of the Parthenon Frieze” (American Journal of Archaeology), offering a new reading of the Parthenon frieze within the full context of Athenian myth, topography, visual culture, and ritual. She is now preparing a book on the implications of this reading for our understanding of the Acropolis buildings and cults. Undergraduate and graduate student are welcome to study this iconic monument in Connelly’s colloquium “The Parthenon and Its Reception from Antiquity to the Present.”
Since 2003, Prof. Connelly has served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, where she has deliberated on requests from some twelve nations for bilateral agreements on import restrictions for cultural material entering the U.S. She brings her expertise in International Cultural Property Law and Cultural Resource Management to her graduate/undergraduate colloquium, “Ancient Art at Risk: Conservation, Ethics, and Cultural Policy,” which she team-teaches with Prof. Norbert S. Baer of the Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center.
Prof. Connelly also teaches a variety of undergraduate courses on Greek sculpture, vase painting, and architecture, the introductory survey of Egyptian, Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman Art, and graduate seminars, including “Myth, Tomb, and Temples: Archaeologies of Greek Cult.”
A field archaeologist, Connelly has worked at Corinth, Athens, and Nemea in Greece, at Paphos, Kourion, and Ancient Marion in Cyprus and on the island of Failaka off the coast of Kuwait. Since 1990, she has directed the NYU Yeronisos Island Excavations and Field School in Cyprus. Each summer, Prof. Connelly takes NYU undergraduates to Cyprus for training in archaeological survey, excavation, material analysis, and conservation. Students receive four course credits for their participation in the Yeronisos Island Excavation Field School. Connelly has published widely on Cypriot art and archaeology and is the author of Votive Sculpture of Hellenistic Cyprus (New York University Press 1988).
In 1996, Prof. Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and held NYU’s Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence in 2002-2004. She has also held visiting fellowships at All Souls College, Magdalen College, New College, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, and at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. She has written for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News.