National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Nathan T. Arrington

Affiliation: Princeton University

Nathan T. Arrington is Associate Professor with the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, and is also the founding Director of the Program in Archaeology there.  He holds his degrees from the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D.), the University of Cambridge, and Princeton University.  His area of interest is classical archaeology, in particular the material culture of ancient Greece from the Early Archaic through the Late Roman periods.  His current publications include At the Margins: Style and Society in Early Athens (forthcoming, Princeton University Press), and Ashes, Images, and Memories: The Presence of the War Dead in Fifth-Century Athens (Oxford University Press 2015, paperback reissue in 2018).  Professor Arrington is the U.S. Director of the Molyvoti Archaeological Project (“Ancient Stryme”) in Thrace.


Ancient Thrace was a land of opportunity, adventure, and trouble. This talk presents the results of a Greek-American archaeological expedition that has explored a large trading port on the Thracian sea, south of modern Komotini. Established by Greek colonists in the 7th or 6th cen. BC, the settlement participated in a robust trade network. This talk will present the history of occupation at the site, the evidence for daily life, and the site’s contributions to economic, political, and social history. Excavation and survey have uncovered important information on the settlement and its changing relationship to the landscape, and shed new light on Greek-Thracian interaction.

Most people experience ancient artifacts in museum settings, where touch is strictly prohibited. Signs, guards, and cultural codes keep our hands off. In contrast, one of the great appeals of archaeology is that, through our interaction with objects, we feel like we are touching the past. This haptic engagement with things is a more accurate embodiment of the way that people in antiquity experienced their material world. In ancient Greece, most art was made to be used rather than contemplated from afar. In this lecture, we will explore the representation of touch in Greek art and the engagement of objects with users, and we will consider how a concern for touch can write new histories of Greek art and culture.

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