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Joan Breton Connelly is an American classical archaeologist and Professor of Classics and Art History at New York University. She is Director of the Yeronisos Island Excavations and Field School in Cyprus. Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1996. She received the Archaeological Institute of America Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and held the Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence at New York University from 2002-2004. She is an Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Peyia, Republic of Cyprus. She is a Trustee of Bryn Mawr College.
Connelly’s scholarship focuses on Greek art, myth, and religion, and includes a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the Parthenon Frieze. A cultural historian, she has examined topics ranging from female agency, to ritual space, landscape, life cycles, identity, reception, and complexity. In Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece, Connelly challenges long held beliefs concerning the “invisibility” of women in ancient Greece and brings together far-flung archaeological evidence for women’s leadership roles in the religious life of the city. Portrait of a Priestess was named as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2007 by the New York Times Book Review, and the Association of American Publishers named it the best book in Classics and Ancient History for 2007. In 2009, Portrait of a Priestess won the Archaeological Institute of America’s James R. Wiseman Book Award.
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 Yeronisos Island Excavation and Field School just off western Cyprus. Here, she has pioneered eco-archaeology, undertaking floral and faunal surveys, annual bird counts, and establishing guidelines sensitive to the ways in which archaeological intervention impacts the natural environment. Her fieldwork has focused on cross-cultural exchange in the Hellenized East during the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great.
Connelly received an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University. She received an M.A. in Classics from Bryn Mawr College. Connelly received a Ph.D. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College, where she later served as an Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate College and Lecturer in Classical Archaeology. She has 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. She held the Norbert Schimmel Fellowship and Classical Fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 2007. Connelly was Hetty Goldman Member at the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 2010-11. She is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Geographical Society, the Explorers Club, and the Society of Woman Geographers.
In collaboration with architect Demetri Porphyrios, Connelly submitted a proposal for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in 2003. She has delivered the Benjamin West Memorial Lecture at Swarthmore College; the Theodore S. Lowe Lecture at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar Lectures; and the Phi Beta Kappa Society Visiting Scholar Lectures. In 2007, she delivered the Spencer Trask Lecture at Princeton University. She has spoken on Greek Priestesses for Andrew Marr’s Start the Week program, BBC Radio 4. In 2007, Connelly appeared in Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed (The History Channel) where she discussed classical antecedents for epic themes in the Star Wars saga. In 2008, she appeared in Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Quest (The History Channel, Lucasfilms and Prometheus Entertainment), in which she discussed new technologies in field archaeology, the importance of stratigraphic context, and the global illicit antiquities market. She has also contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News.