Joan Breton Connelly is an American classical archaeologist and Professor of Classics and Art History at New York University. She is Director of the Yeronisos Island Excavations and Field School in Cyprus. Connelly was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1996. She received the Archaeological Institute of America Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2007 and held the Lillian Vernon Chair for Teaching Excellence at New York University from 2002-2004. She is an Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Peyia, Republic of Cyprus. She is a Trustee of Bryn Mawr College.
Connelly’s scholarship focuses on Greek art, myth, and religion, and includes a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the Parthenon Frieze. A cultural historian, she has examined topics ranging from female agency, to ritual space, landscape, life cycles, identity, reception, and complexity. In Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece, Connelly challenges long held beliefs concerning the “invisibility” of women in ancient Greece and brings together far-flung archaeological evidence for women’s leadership roles in the religious life of the city. Portrait of a Priestess was named as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2007 by the New York Times Book Review, and the Association of American Publishers named it the best book in Classics and Ancient History for 2007. In 2009, Portrait of a Priestess won the Archaeological Institute of America’s James R. Wiseman Book Award.
A field archaeologist, Connelly has worked at Corinth, Athens, and Nemea in Greece, at Paphos, Kourion, and Ancient Marion in Cyprus, and on the island of Failaka off the coast of Kuwait. Since 1990, she has directed the Yeronisos Island Excavation and Field School just off western Cyprus. Here, she has pioneered eco-archaeology, undertaking floral and faunal surveys, annual bird counts, and establishing guidelines sensitive to the ways in which archaeological intervention impacts the natural environment. Her fieldwork has focused on cross-cultural exchange in the Hellenized East during the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great.
Connelly received an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University. She received an M.A. in Classics from Bryn Mawr College. Connelly received a Ph.D. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College, where she later served as an Assistant Dean of the Undergraduate College and Lecturer in Classical Archaeology. She has held visiting fellowships at All Souls College, Magdalen College, New College, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. She held the Norbert Schimmel Fellowship and Classical Fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 2007. Connelly was Hetty Goldman Member at the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 2010-11. She is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Geographical Society, the Explorers Club, and the Society of Woman Geographers.
In collaboration with architect Demetri Porphyrios, Connelly submitted a proposal for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in 2003. She has delivered the Benjamin West Memorial Lecture at Swarthmore College; the Theodore S. Lowe Lecture at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar Lectures; and the Phi Beta Kappa Society Visiting Scholar Lectures. In 2007, she delivered the Spencer Trask Lecture at Princeton University. She has spoken on Greek Priestesses for Andrew Marr’s Start the Week program, BBC Radio 4. In 2007, Connelly appeared in Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed (The History Channel) where she discussed classical antecedents for epic themes in the Star Wars saga. In 2008, she appeared in Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Quest (The History Channel, Lucasfilms and Prometheus Entertainment), in which she discussed new technologies in field archaeology, the importance of stratigraphic context, and the global illicit antiquities market. She has also contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News.
- Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece Princeton University Press (2007). (Sample chapter)
- Votive Sculpture of Hellenistic Cyprus (New York and Nicosia 1988).
- "Parthenon and Parthenoi: A Mythological Interpretation of the Parthenon Frieze,” American Journal of Archaeology 100 (1996) 53-80.
- “Narrative and Image in Attic Vase Painting: Ajax and Kassandra at the Trojan Palladion,” in Peter Holiday, ed., Narrative and Event in Ancient Art (Cambridge. 1993) 88-129.
- “Votive Offerings of Hellenistic Failaka: Evidence for Herakles Cult,” In L'Arabie Préislamique et son Environnement Historique et Culturel, Université des Sciences Humaine de Strasbourg (Leiden 1989) 145-158.
- "Excavations on Geronisos (1990-1997): The First Report," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2002. (Geronisos Island First Report)
- "Hellenistic and Byzantine Cisterns on Geronisos Island," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2002. (Cisterns)
- "Terracotta Oil Lamps from Geronisos and their Contexts," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2002. (Terracotta Oil Lamps)
- "The Chalcolithic Occupation of Geronisos Island," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2004. (Chalcolithic Occupation)
- "Excavations on Geronisos Island: Second Report, the Central South Complex," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2005. (Central South Complex)
- "Stamp-Seals from Geronisos and their Contexts," Reports of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 2006. (Stamp Seals)
- “The Legacy of Classical Athens in Post 9/11 New York,” in The Future of New York: An International Perspective, ed. E. Posner, Properties: The Review of the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute (Spring 2006) 204-213.
- “Hybridity and Identity on Late Ptolemaic Yeronisos,” in Actes du Colloque “Chypre à l’époque hellénistique et impériale: Recherches récentes et nouvelles découvertes,” Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre et Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Nanterre - Paris 25-26 septembre 2009, eds. A.-M. Guimier-Sorbets and D. Michaelidès, Centre d’Etudes Chypriotes Cahier 39 (2009) 69-88. (Hybridity and Identity on Late Ptolemaic Yeronisos)
- “Twilight of the Ptolemies: Egyptian Presence on late Hellenistic Yeronisos,” in Egypt and Cyprus in Antiquity, Proceedings of the International Conference, Nicosia, April 3-6, 2003, D. Michaelides, V. Kassianidou, R.S. Merrilies, eds., Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute and the University of Cyprus, Archaeological Research Unit (Oxford 2009) 194-209. (Twilight of the Ptolemies)
- “Yeronisos: Twenty Years on Cleopatra’s Isle,” Explorers Club Journal, December 2010, 18-25. (Twenty Years on Cleopatra's Isle)
- Joan Breton Connelly Profile at NYU "Joan Breton Connelly". NYU Art History Faculty. New York University. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- Yeronisos Island Expedition Website
- Awards. In American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 111, No. 2, April 2007.
- "New Analysis of the Parthenon's Frieze Finds It Depicts a Horrifying Legend" by John Noble Wilford, New York Times, July 4, 1995.
- "Colloquy: Revitalizing the classics?" by Scott Heller, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- "Keepers of the Faith" by Steve Coates, New York Times, July 1, 2007.
- "The Women and the Gods" by Peter Green, The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 11, June 28, 2007.
- Portrait of a Priestess Profile at Princeton University Press
- "100 Notable Books of the Year" from The New York Times
- 2007 PSP Awards Press Release
- James R. Wiseman Book Award
- Cleopatra's Secret in "Departures Magazine" July/August 2008.
- World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition Entry for Joan Connelly
- Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Senior Visiting Professors Program
- "Visual Space/Ritual Space and the Agency of the Greek Priestess" by Joan Breton Connelly, Feb. 8, 2007.
- Start the Week February 26, 2007, Episode Information
- "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" Website
- NYU faculty page
- Yeronisos Island Excavations and Field School
- Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece