LAWRENCE — Joan Breton Connelly, MacArthur Fellowship winner and classical archaeologist at New York University, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, in the Lied Center Pavilion. “The Parthenon Enigma” is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will occur after the lecture.
Built in the fifth century B.C., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West’s ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own? And apart from the significance with which we have invested it, what exactly did this marvel of human hands mean to those who made it?
Connelly is a classical archaeologist and professor of classics and art history at New York University. In 1996, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in Greek art, myth and religion. A field archaeologist, Connelly has excavated throughout Greece, Kuwait and Cyprus where, since 1990, she has directed the NYU Yeronisos Island Expedition. She is an honorary citizen of Peyia Municipality, Cyprus.
Connelly will also participate in an informal conversation session the next day. "Unearthing Cleopatra's Cyprus: Excavations on Yeronisos Island" will take place at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 in the Hall Center Conference Hall. Just off the shores of western Cyprus, Yeronisos — or “Holy” island — was a magnet for pilgrims from Cleopatra’s time. Across the past quarter-century, New York University’s Yeronisos Island Excavations have pioneered eco-archaeology on this intriguing islet. Today a major nesting site for birds, set in the path of green and loggerhead sea turtles making their way to mainland beaches, Yeronisos was once the site of a sanctuary of Apollo, a vital pilgrimage destination that flourished in the first century B.C. Connelly looks inside the experience of the Hellenistic worshippers who traveled out to Yeronisos to feast in its dining rooms, perform on its dance floor and pray at its shrine. Unique discoveries made at this island sanctuary shed important light on the intersection of the Ptolemaic Egyptian and indigenous Cypriot cultural orbits, filling in a major blank in the historical record for which literary evidence is sorely lacking. Audience members are invited to pose questions to Connelly during this event.
Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin, and Sarah Vowell. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.