National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Jeffrey Hurwit

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Jeffrey Hurwit is the Philip H. Knight Professor, Emeritus, of History of Art and Architecture, and Classics, at the University of Oregon.  He holds his degrees from Yale University (Ph.D.) and Brown University, has published widely and conducts research in Greece and Italy.  He has received many awards and accolades for his work, and is considered one of the country’s leading scholars in ancient Greek art; several of his volumes, including The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles (Cambridge University Press, 2004) are considered standards in the field.  His recent publications include Artists and Signatures in Ancient Greece (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and he has several works in progress, including The Archaic SmileThe Representation of the Sea in Early Greek Art, and The Hands and Horses of Pech Merle.  Professor Hurwit is the AIA Norton Lecturer for 2020/2021.


Undoubtedly the most familiar and recognizable feature on the faces of figures carved in the round or in relief during the Greek Archaic period (c. 750-480 BCE) is a shallow, inscrutable smile that, like the Mona Lisa’s, has defied explanation. The lecture surveys the origin and history of the “Archaic Smile” as well as the history of its interpretation. It is often thought a stylistic “import” from the sculpture of Egypt or the Near East, and it has been variously considered a sign of life, or happiness, or status, or divinity, or even an “optical refinement.” But although certain theories can be eliminated from the discussion and others added, there may in fact be no single, universal explanation for the Smile at all.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

J. Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period, 1975

Chaniotis, A., Kaltsas, N., and Mylonopoulos, I., eds.. A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC-200 AD. 2017.

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