Faculty image John G. Pedley Emeritus Professor of Classical Archaeology and Greek; Director Emeritus, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Department of Classical Studies, LS&A

Dr John Pedley received his BA in Classics, with specialization in Ancient History, at Cambridge University in 1953 and the MA in 1959. Entering the graduate program in Classical Archaeology at Harvard University in 1960, he spent a year at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (1963-1964), and received his doctorate in 1965.

Joining the Michigan faculty as Assistant Professor in 1965, he was promoted Associate in 1968 and Professor in 1974. He served as Acting Chair of the Department of Classical Studies for two years in the 1970s and as Director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology from 1973-1986. In 1978 he  received a Senior Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award. In 1996-97 he was appointed Distinguished Senior Lecturer and received the Warner G. Rice Humanities Award. He has served as Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University, as Resident in Archaeology at the American Academy in Rome and as Guest Scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

His teaching and research have focused on the ancient Greek world with particular reference to art and archaeology, and notably to sanctuaries and cities, architecture, sculpture and painting. His research has included field work in England at Verulamium and Corstopitum, in Greece at Pylos and in Turkey at Sardis. He co-directed the Michigan excavations at Apollonia in Libya , served as co-principal investigator of the Harvard-Michigan fieldwork at Carthage and directed excavations on behalf of the Corpus of the Ancient Mosaics of Tunisia at El Djem. He was field director of the Michigan-Perugia excavations at Paestum in Italy in the 1980s. He has published 12 books and over 80 articles and reviews.

In the course of his career he has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American research Institute in Turkey, Harvard University, the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and numerous awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for improvements to the collections and programs of the Kelsey Museum, and for the excavations at Paestum.

A Life Member of the Archaeological Institute of America, he has served on numerous committees including the Executive, the Lecture Program and the Monographs Committees, and chaired the Nominating and the Fellowship Committees. He has served on the Overseers’ Committee to Visit the Department of Classics at Harvard College, as Assessor of Archaeological Projects for the Canada Council, and on UNESCO’s Comite Consultatif on the Sauvegarde de Carthage. He has chaired the Rome Prize Classical Studies Jury for the American Academy in Rome and served on the Comitato Scientifico of Ostraka and of the Centro Studi Phistelia, Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano.

Curriculum Vitae

Classical Archaeology at Michigan: Fieldwork and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

On arrival in Michigan in 1965 I found that course offerings in classical archaeology were thin with no undergraduate major and no graduate program. Fieldwork had however begun that summer under the aegis of the Kelsey Museum at Apollonia in Libya, spurred by work started by Oleg Grabar of the History of Art department at an Islamic site in Syria. With Apollonia in view I thought it time for a renewal of the vigorous engagement with classical archaeology that had been characteristic of Michigan in Francis Kelsey’s time.


At Apollonia the Michigan project was led by Clark Hopkins, Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology, assisted by Richard Goodchild, the Controller of Antiquities of Cyrenaica. Following Hopkins’ retirement in 1965 the work was co-directed by Donald White (Department of History of Art) and by me, again assisted by Goodchild. The research resulted in a detailed discussion of the city’s fortification walls, the recovery of the plan and elevation of an extramural temple, and the identification of a building inside the city as a Byzantine bath complex. These results, together with the work of earlier scholars on the theater, the churches, and the palace of thedux were published as Apollonia, Port of Cyrene, Excavations by the University of Michigan, 1965-1967, Supplement to Libya Antiqua, vol. IV (1976). The sculptures from the site followed: A Catalog of Sculpture from Apollonia, Supplement to Libya Antiqua vol.VI (1978). All publication costs were met by the Libyan Department of Antiquities. The publication of the site underscored the cordial relationship developed between Michigan and Libya, and marked the reappearance of Michigan classical archaeologists in North Africa after an absence of some 30 years.

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

The university’s collections of classical antiquities, begun by Henry Frieze (1817-1889) and expanded enormously by Francis Kelsey (1858-1927), were kept at the time of Kelsey’s death in various corners of the campus. After his death the university began to gather these together into Newberry Hall, a magnificent old building (built 1888-1891) designed for the Student Christian Association. As the building’s use for religiously based activities diminished, at some time in the 1920s it was leased to the University, and subsequently (1936) donated outright. Renamed the Museum of Archaeology it opened its doors in 1929. It was not until 1953 that the Regents endorsed the renaming of the building again to bear Kelsey’s name.

From 1929 onward little consistent thought seems to have been given to the best academic use of the collections, and in the later 1960s questions began to be asked in the Executive Committee of the College of LSA about its usefulness. These rumblings came to a head in the fall of 1971 when the actual closing of the museum was under consideration. As acting chair of the Department of Classical Studies I thought it my duty to intervene.

I enlisted the aid of sympathetic Michigan faculty, Ann Arbor citizens (of whom Senator and Mrs. Gilbert Bursley were the leaders), senior scholars from other universities and others who had benefited from the collections. I thought a letter writing campaign might help. There were two major categories of beneficiaries: school groups, and knowledgeable American and foreign scholars. Letters were sent out explaining the situation and asking for support. The reaction was rapid. Many schools encouraged students who had visited the museum to write. In no time the Dean’s Office was swamped with postcards, letters, and notes. Senior colleagues also reacted quickly, writing persuasively from prestigious American universities and from Europe.

Within a month I was asked to serve on a four person committee set up to make recommendations about the museum’s future. This committee divided equally between two solutions: the first, to take the Museum out of the College and attach it to the Museum of Art, thereby giving it direct access to funding from the Office of the President; the second, to keep the Museum in the College, strengthening it but leaving it to compete for funds with teaching departments. I was one of the two who on financial grounds favored removing the museum from the College and attaching it to the Museum of Art. The Executive Committee of the College decided otherwise.

After a while Dean Frank Rhodes asked me to be the next director. My wife and I spent a whole weekend going over the building: it was a discouraging business. The exterior is impressive, but the interior, ill-suited to a museum’s needs, was hopelessly out of date with areas of the basement and upper floors disorganized and cluttered with odds and ends. A series of meetings with the Dean ensued in which I described the situation and made a number of requests. Although he would only commit to a few of them, I was impressed by his sympathetic attitude and agreed to give it a try.

I took up the directorship in July 1973. The staff was very small. It consisted of the director, an elderly curator, an equally elderly preparator, a part time registrar, a part time conservator, and a part time librarian. There was no organizational chart, no regularly scheduled Executive Committee meetings, no secretary, and no programmatic framework to make sense of the collections. There was not enough space for the proper storage of the collections or for their effective use. Functioning with just two objectives, a program of exhibits geared to schoolchildren and an intermittent fieldwork program, the place was somnolent, understaffed and underused.


I thought effective administration of the Museum required an effective Executive Committee, so I set about persuading colleagues from related Departments to serve. My first approach was to Jimmy Griffin, Director of the Museum of Anthropology. Griffin was not known for sympathy to the Humanities, still less for admiration for the Kelsey Museum, but he was an eloquent champion of museums. He agreed to serve and was a big help. The chair of Classical Studies, John D’Arms and the chair of History of Art, Clif Olds, and senior members of History and Near Eastern Studies, Chester Starr and Alan Luther, also agreed to participate. We met monthly. Every initiative I proposed was discussed by this committee and no action was taken without its support.

Our first task was to outline responsibilities and goals, and then programs. There was agreement that preservation of the collections was our prime responsibility - a conservation program was therefore a priority. A fieldwork program and in-house research on understudied materials were necessities. Another objective was publication of the collections – monographs, catalogs, articles, gallery guides and exhibitions. Other programs considered necessary included renovation; acquisitions; and outreach. Finally, underscoring the museum’s role in the College, we wanted to encourage the use of the collections by client Departments.


Dean Frank Rhodes had agreed that the Museum could appoint a secretary and a replacement preparator. He had also agreed to consider the recruitment of an archaeological conservator and the installation of a laboratory. I’d also stressed to him the importance of hiring an archaeologist to cover the courses I was surrendering to take the directorship. The College authorized such an appointment, and Sharon Herbert, a Stanford graduate with fieldwork experience, joined the Department of Classical Studies in the fall of 1973. Fifty percent of her teaching load was to be courses in classical archaeology. In making the case for a conservator I enlisted the help of the Keeper of the Laboratory of the British Museum. After a visit to the Kelsey he wrote to Dean Rhodes unequivocally advocating the installation of a conservation lab and the appointment of a trained conservator. The Dean agreed.

The Dean’s commitments were duly met. In the course of my first year as Director, Pat Berry became the museum secretary, David Slee was hired as the new preparator, and in 1975 Amy Rosenberg, a conservator trained at the London Institute of Archaeology, joined the staff. A conservation laboratory was installed on the second floor of the building and work began. In 1978 we were able to appoint a Registrar, Pam Reister, who took in hand the large back log of work.

To meet the needs of programs of exhibitions, publication and fieldwork, more curators were needed. With the help of the chairs of Classical Studies and History of Art two new appointments were secured, each to be shared with a department, thus tying the museum more closely to the university’s intellectual life. Both appointments were to be Romanists, since the underlying plan, building on the strengths of the Museum’s collections and the presence on campus of distinguished Roman historians, was to secure for Michigan a leading position in Roman studies. With new curators in place the museum could publish the collections (exhibitions, catalogs, monographs), and begin the excavation of a Roman site. Two excellent appointments were made: Elaine Gazda, who was teaching at the University of Southern California, agreed to serve as senior curator of the collections overseeing the new exhibitions program, and John Humphrey, fresh from a Bryn Mawr doctorate, agreed to edit the first volume of Apollonia and plan and execute a new fieldwork project. Furthermore, on the retirement in 1978 of curator Louise Shier we were authorized to make another curatorial appointment. Another young scholar, Margaret Root, joined the faculty, a joint appointment between the Kelsey and History of Art, to help with the exhibitions program and to curate and publish the near eastern collections. A specialist in Achaemenid art and archaeology, and another Bryn Mawr graduate, at the time of her Michigan appointment Root was teaching at the University of Chicago.

In this way a scaffolding of programs came into place, conservation, exhibitions and fieldwork being the cornerstones. Others followed: a publication program, a lecture program, a renovation program, a program of acquisitions, and an outreach program including a volunteers group, the Associates. I myself took responsibility for the renovations, the acquisitions, the lectures and some of the publications.

Graduate Program in Classical Art and Archaeology

The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Classical Art & Archaeology, begun in 1969 and headquartered in the Museum, and chaired by me, was faltering.  It needed new staff and fresh thinking. The departures of Oleg Grabar to Harvard and of Donald White to Penn had been serious blows but the new curatorial faculty appointments (50% Museum, 50% Department and therefore with teaching responsibilities) restored the program’s equilibrium. New courses, seminars and research projects, many involving the Museum’s collections, were introduced. By these means and by subsequent expansion of faculty, staff and facilities Michigan has been able over the years to attract more and better trained undergraduates to a graduate program recognized as one of the best in the nation.


Since the antiquated state of the galleries required immediate attention, I applied to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for help. Both were sympathetic, and between 1974 and 1977 provided six substantial grants enabling us to hire Vincent Ciulla, a New York art gallery consultant, to design and execute a program of new installations with fresh designs, colors, cases, and lighting. This initial program of renovation however only affected the ground floor galleries and the conservation space. What had been achieved was only a short term solution.

The answer to the problems of space for display galleries, suitable storage areas, enlarged laboratory space, administrative and curatorial offices, student research space and the overall updating of the museum lay in the construction of a new wing on the car park behind the Museum. In early 1977 I began casting about to see how this could be done. Fundraising was in its infancy in the University, and the College had only a single fundraiser. In consultation with Wilbur K. Pierpont, Vice President for Financial Affairs, about whether it would be proper for the museum to seek donors by itself, Pierpont told me in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t imagine the university turning down a gift sufficient to meet the costs of a new wing. Together the Associates group and I began contacting several people we thought might be sympathetic; it took a while but eventually (l982) we found a person who said she would provide the few millions needed at that time to build a New Wing. But at this point the Dean, Peter Steiner, stepped in. He wanted the money for another project. So without informing the museum he approached the donor himself. When she refused him saying she wanted the money to be used for the museum, he turned to President Shapiro. The donor could hardly refuse the President. Accordingly, the funds were diverted and the much needed New Wing had to wait a further 30 years to be built, at a far larger cost. In the 1990s, however, there were some improvements: further modifications in the building including partial climate control did take place. The New Wing constructed in 2009 has transformed the building at long last into a fully effective university museum.

This unfortunate experience with fundraising brought into sharp focus for me the fact that small non-teaching units have little say in the College. Large departments generating many student credit hours are much more likely to have members of their departments on the Executive Committee. This inevitably works against the smaller units which have to rely for support on the impartiality of the Dean of the moment and the occasional sympathetic voice on the Committee. Different deans viewed the Kelsey Museum in different ways. Frank Rhodes understood the museum’s problems and was consistently supportive, as was his successor, Billy Frye. Frye was exceptional for the breadth of his vision and his appreciation of all the units and departments in the College, large and small. On a visit to the Kelsey his remark “how can I learn more about the collections?” was both telling of his attitude and much appreciated by the staff.


In addition to housing the classical collections, the Museum had been used by the University as a depository for materials for which there was no obvious home. Following the formulation of what fell within its purview, and what didn’t, the Executive Committee of the Museum decided to remove materials not germane to the classical Mediterranean world. These included furniture of oriental origin which was transferred to the Exhibits Museum, and the residue of a collection of firearms the larger part of which had been sold earlier. The firearms were offered to the Museum of Art and the Exhibits Museum, which were not interested in them, and then to the Clements Library which took a few items. The rest were sold at auction in 1984 and the proceeds added to the Acquisitions Fund. This fund had already been enriched by contributions from the Museum’s Associates group and used to acquire objects to fill gaps in the collections.

There was a fundamental imbalance in the collections which - with only a few objects of artistic merit - consisted largely of artefactual materials. There was no example of larger scale Greek or Roman sculpture or Greek painted vases, in sharp contrast to the collections of other Big Ten universities, notably Indiana. It seemed logical to me that the Museum of Art should have shouldered responsibility for Greek and Roman art, but it had not, arguing that the Kelsey Museum was the place for all ancient western materials. In this situation, we decided to acquire a few larger objects of ancient art, and try to persuade the Museum of Art to help. In this I found a sympathetic colleague in the then director of the Museum of Art, Bret Waller, and the two museums shared some notable acquisitions. Over the years the collections increased in scope and character by the purchase of a few pieces of sculpture and vase painting, notable both for their suitability for teaching and for their artistic merit, so that by the end of my tenure as Director the imbalance between artefactual and art objects in the Museum had been somewhat redressed and the University could at last boast one or two substantial examples of Greek and Roman art.


As I set my sights on re-energizing the museum’s fieldwork program, two possibilities were in view, one in Israel, the other in Tunisia.

Israel: Tel Anafa

In 1972-73 Sharon Herbert had worked with Saul Weinberg of the University of Missouri at Tel Anafa, a small Hellenistic and early Roman settlement in Israel, which Weinberg had opened in 1968. When Weinberg was approaching retirement and looking for a successor, he approached Herbert. I suggested to them both and to the director of the Museum of Art and Archaeology at Missouri, Osmund Overby, that a joint Missouri-Michigan continuation of Weinberg’s work under Herbert’s leadership might suit everybody. It did. Consequently, the Kelsey Museum joined with the Museum at Missouri to continue the work, initially with Herbert and Weinberg as co-Directors, subsequently with Herbert as sole director. Five seasons of work at the site, between 1978 and 1986 ensued.

Tunisia: Thysdrus

In early 1972 the director of the Corpus of Ancient Mosaics of Tunisia, Professor Margaret Alexander of the University of Iowa, asked if I would direct the fieldwork that summer and the summer of 1973 at Thysdrus.  Bearing in mind that Michigan had excavated in Tunisia at Carthage long ago (1925), I was interested to renew the connection. The purpose of the project, begun in 1967, was to research and catalogue all Tunisian mosaics of the Roman period. Work had recently been completed at Utica, and Thysdrus was next on the agenda. This was an ideal opportunity for Michigan faculty and students to gain experience of archaeological work in Tunisia, and of Tunisian archaeological sites, practices and personnel.

Our work involved the lifting of mosaics from a suite of houses, the study of the foundation laid for the mosaics and the sifting of the earth beneath for evidence (sherds, coins etc.) bearing on the date of the pavements. The archaeological evidence together with stylistic analysis would establish a chronology and typology, enabling the Thysdrus mosaics to take their place in the whole Corpus. The result of our investigations placed the installation of the mosaics between ca.180 and 250 AD. The project not only allowed team members to experience archaeological fieldwork and daily life in an Arab country, but also to broaden their intellectual horizons by visiting other cultural sites, e.g. Kairouan where the Grand Mosque, built in the later 7th century AD is considered by many Moslems to be Islam’s 4th holiest. It also brought the University of Michigan to the attention of the Tunisian authorities at a time when the Tunisians wereattempting to organize an international project of work at Carthage.

Tunisia: Carthage

Following the work at Thysdrus, I’d made enquiries about further fieldwork opportunities in Tunisia, to no avail. In the interim the Tunisian Institute of Art and Archaeology with the endorsement of UNESCO had organized an international project at Carthage, the Campagne Internationale de Sauvegarde de Carthage. Invitations to participate had been sent to various national institutions, among them the Archaeological Institute of America. The AIA passed the invitation to the American Academy in Rome. Potential participants were invited to a meeting in Tunis, at which possible sites for exploration were to be discussed and divvied up. At this meeting the American Academy was represented by Professor Frank Brown. The French were allocated the houses on the Byrsa, the hilltop overlooking the harbors, the Germans were given the forum, the British the harbors, other countries other sites. The Tunisians wanted the Americans to take on the Baths of Antoninus Pius, but Frank Brown, seeing little significant research there, displayed no interest, so no American team participated at the outset. Before long however teams from Britain, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, France, and Canada were in the field.

In the spring of 1974 I received a phone call from Professor G. Ernest Wright, Curator of the Semitic Museum at Harvard and President of the American Schools of Oriental Research. He had received a communication from the Tunisians inviting ASOR to join the Carthage project. His reaction had been to form a consortium to represent the United States, and Michigan was on his list. I said that I didn’t favor large consortia since difficulties often arose between members, but that the idea of a joint Michigan-Harvard project appealed to me. I reasoned that since Harvard’s Semitic Museum’s interests would best be met by a Punic site - and the sanctuary site, the Tophet, partially excavated by Michigan in 1925 would be a logical starting point – and Michigan’s by a Roman site, the research aims of the two would be quite different requiring two separate teams. In this way tensions could be minimized. Professor Wright and I agreed to proceed on that understanding, each museum gathering its own team and negotiating separate permits, all under the umbrella of ASOR. In the summer I met in Carthage with Larry Stager, field director of the Harvard team and John Humphrey, field director of the Michigan team, to identify sites and negotiate permits. The Harvard team decided on resumption of work at the Punic site explored by Michigan in 1925. For Michigan, John Humphrey and I settled on a large field at the foot of the Byrsa where Tunisian archeologists in 1969-71 had found a 5th century Christian basilica and a late Roman house with fragments of mosaic pavements depicting charioteers. After minor but necessary wrangling the Tunisians granted the permits.

The Michigan work began the following year in the field below the Byrsa, graduate students directing Tunisian workmen in the squares which mapped the site. Work was concentrated in two areas: the house with the charioteer mosaics, and an ecclesiastical complex close to the church investigated by the Tunisians. John Humphrey directed the excavation with the help of Michigan students and a group of outstanding specialists: John Hayes (pottery), Katherine Dunbabin (mosaics), Dick Ford (ethnobotany), and W. H. C. Frend (the early Christian church).

The stratigraphy in both areas was complicated. The compression of floor levels in the so-called House of the Greek Charioteers, with numerous robber trenches adding to the difficulties, called for sharp eyed and sensitive excavators. But an outline history of the house emerged, suggesting construction in the late 4th century to a typical North African peristyle house plan, little alteration throughout the 5th century with the exception of the replacement of mosaic panels, and a phase of reconstruction in the 6th. At the other site, the ecclesiastical complex, the building put up in the 5th century was re-floored on several occasions; towards the end of the 6th some of its functions changed. Part of the building was turned over to domestic use which continued throughout the 7th century punctuated by moments of disruption, wall robbing, and pitting. Roof collapse was followed by episodes of debris dumping and filling, evident in stratified rubbish dumps. It was an extremely difficult site with complex stratigraphic problems, but Humphrey and the Michigan people mastered it. Under Humphrey’s editorial leadership the results were published rapidly, Excavations at Carthage conducted by the University of Michigan I-VII (1976-1982), Michigan setting the pace for the other teams participating in the UNESCO project.

The work in Carthage created another link for the University. The day to day life of an archaeologist involves close communication with the workmen in the trenches. At Carthage our students used what knowledge of French they had. One Michigan student, however, a Jordanian, was fluent in Arabic. To the workmen, however, he was just another Michigan student. On the final day of the season one of the workmen’s remark to Ghazi “You speak excellent Arabic for an American” caused some hilarity. That Michigan Ph.D., Ghazi Bisheh, became Director-General of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities.

The leader of the French team, Serge Lancel, happened to be at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in academic year 1978-1979, the year in which the museum celebrated its 50th anniversary. Two projects were planned: an exhibition (Carthage Then and Now) linking Professor Kelsey’s work at Carthage in 1925 with the museum’s new work, and a conference bringing together the American and Canadian participants in the UNESCO project. At the conference held in Ann Arbor representatives of the two Canadian (one anglophone, one francophone) and the two American teams were joined by Professor Lancel. The papers were published quickly in book form: J.G. Pedley (ed.) New Light on Ancient Carthage (University of Michigan Press, 1980).

Italy: Paestum

In early 1980, as the publication phase of the Carthage work was winding down, I began searching for another project. It was important that the museum’s fieldwork program be visible and that graduate students should have opportunities before them on a Michigan project. Excavation at Tel Anafa was in progress but work there was only possible intermittently. So I turned to Mario Torelli, Professor of Greek and Roman Archaeology and Art History at the University of Perugia, to see if there might be possibilities in Italy. Torelli had lectured on campus in 1974 and been visiting Professor here in 1978. In the spring of 1981, Torelli sent a telegram asking whether Michigan might be interested in joining Perugia in the exploration of a sanctuary site at Paestum. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting prospect. Paestum offered opportunities for research at one of the most prominent sites in Italy, famous for its Greek temples and continuous inhabitation into Roman times.

I went to Italy as soon as I could. Mario and I drove to Benevento to meet the Superintendent of Antiquities, Werner Johannowsky, who agreed to give us a permit. The following morning we examined the site. Earlier exploration had discovered unusual architectural features with pottery and terracotta figurines of Greek, Hellenistic and Roman date. Since these materials suggested continuous use from the 6th c. BC to the 3rd AD we thought we could retrieve the origins of an important Roman cult. The pottery and figurines could shed light on religious activities as well as on patterns of cultural influence and exchange in and around Paestum and between Paestum and other sites where Greeks and Romans mingled with indigenous peoples. Work began in 1982 continuing both in the field and at the museum for two months and was renewed annually through 1985.

Four seasons of work bore much fruit. We successfully deciphered the stratigraphy of the site identifying levels from the archaic period through the classical and Hellenistic down into Roman republican and early imperial times. We reconstructed the architectural history of the parts of the sanctuary accessible to us, whose major features are an early 5th century BC temple extensively repaired in the Roman period, and a 5th century dining hall enlarged in early Roman times (3rd century) and further enhanced by a 1st century BC reworking of the interior to include several horseshoe shaped niches. Close by is apiscina, a large fish pool, a Roman addition to the sanctuary, perhaps the living place for sacred fish. The oldest buildings so far unearthed were not erected till the late archaic period, suggesting that the earliest (6th century) cult activity, attested by the wealth of terracotta figurines of that date, may have taken place in the open air. However, an early 20th century tomato paste (Cirio) factory sits on part of the sanctuary, so that architectural members and a sculpted stone metope found at the time of the factory’s construction (1908) may represent an earlier religious structure the location of which may not be determined until the modern factory is dismantled.

As to the history of the cult, the numerous fragments of terracotta figurines are almost exclusively of familiar types variously identified as Hera, Athena, Aphrodite or Artemis. A distinctive group presents images of a standing goddess, nude, which allows us to link the earliest activity at the site with Aphrodite. Such nude female images are rare at other Greek sites in Italy and Sicily but occur more frequently in the eastern Greek world where they are thought to represent Greek Aphrodite or Phoenician Astarte. Such an eastern link for our goddess is underscored by the existence of the piscina in the sanctuary and connection to the Dea Syria, popular in the east, in whose cult fish played an important role. The continuation of the cult of Aphrodite is demonstrated by our discovery of several inscriptions of the Roman period attesting the presence of Venus (Greek Aphrodite) in the sanctuary. And the survival of the name in the contemporary name of the site as thelocalita Santa Venera is obviously significant.

Beyond the dedications, other evidence of cultic activity is apparent in the dining hall where we found the debris of ritual meals. The niches in the dining hall introduced in the Roman phase are to be connected with other ritual activities, and it’s reasonable to conjecture that thepiscina similarly will have been the focus of religious practice. These results were published as preliminary reports in the American Journal of Archaeology (1983, 1984, and 1985) and in two substantial volumes titled The Sanctuary of Santa Venera at Paestum (Rome, Giorgio Bretschneider, 1993, 2003).


Though I took up the Directorship of the Kelsey Museum hesitatingly, I left it in 1986 content to see the Museum active on many fronts and content to have taken on the responsibility for its welfare. Pari passu with that contentment is a satisfying sense of having had a hand in the inauguration and growth of programs, undergraduate and graduate, in classical archaeology the success of which echoes that of Francis Kelsey a century ago.

John Griffiths Pedley

April, 2016

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