Susan Rotroff, Washington University in St. Louis
In 1972 Greek archaeologists unearthed two nearly complete Archaic (800 to 480 BC) statues a foot below the modern surface of an olive grove in the countryside of Attica, outside the city of Athens. They represent a young man and a young woman of the second half of the 6th century BC, carved in the traditional static pose of the time. They had been erected as grave markers in a nearby family cemetery. But, after standing guard over the deceased for only a short period of time, they had been deliberately removed and buried.
Who are the deceased? What, precisely, do the statues represent? Why were they chosen to mark these particular graves? What achievements or qualities of the deceased – either real or desired – do they commemorate, and what funeral practices may they document? And what threat impelled family members to bury these splendid grave monuments so soon after their erection? In her lecture, Professor Susan Rotroff will address these questions, and explore the ways in which the statues reflect the interconnected themes of youth, beauty, athletic prowess, marriage and death in the society of 6th-century Athens.
Susan Rotroff is a Classical archaeologist who specializes in the archaeology of Athens and in Greek ceramics. Educated at Bryn Mawr College and Princeton University, she has worked at several sites in Greece (Lefkandi, Corinth, Karystos, Samothrace) and Turkey (Troy, Sardis, Cilicia). Her primary association, however, has been with the Agora Excavations, where archaeologists are investigating the ancient civic center of Athens. Her research focuses on the ways in which ceramic evidence informs us about the activities and behavior of ancient peoples. She has taught at Mount Allison University, in Canada, and at Hunter College; currently she is the Jarvis Thurston and Mona van Duyn Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. She has published three volumes on the Hellenistic ceramics of the Athenian Agora and has recently been working in Turkey on an underwater survey at Kaledran, and on the excavation of a Roman ship at Kizilburun.
This is a Norton Lecture, named for Charles Eliot Norton, the founder and first President of the AIA and former Professor of the History of Art at Harvard University. The Norton Lectureship is part of the AIA’s National Lecture Program