Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity

johnpolliniThe Archaeological Institute of America lecture series will conclude this semester with the Joukouwski Lecture delivered by John Pollini, professor of classical art and archaeology in the department of art history at the University of Southern California. His lecture, entitled “Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity,” will be held on Thursday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. in the Nashville Parthenon in Centennial Park.

In popular culture Christianity is remembered for the art, architecture, customs, rituals, and myths that it preserved from the classical past. It is rarely acknowledged, however, that Christianity also destroyed a great deal in its conversion of the Roman Empire. The material evidence for Christian destruction has often been overlooked or gone unrecognized even by archaeologists. Pollini will examine various forms of Christian destruction and desecration of images of classical antiquity during the fourth to seventh centuries as well as some of the attendant problems in detecting and making sense of this phenomenon.

Pollini received both his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in the interdepartmental program in ancient history and Mediterranean archaeology. At the University of Southern California, where he has taught since 1987, he has served as chair of the department and as dean of the School of Fine Arts. His areas of specialization are Roman art and archaeology, ancient religion and propaganda. He has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, two American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships, two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy.

To be published this year is his latest book, From Republic to Empire: Rhetoric, Religion, and Power in the Visual Culture of Ancient Rome. His current book project is titled Christian Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity: A Study in Religious Intolderance and Violence in the Ancient World.

Free and open to the public, the lecture is sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America, the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park, the Vanderbilt History of Art Goldberg Lecture Series, the Department of Classical Studies, and the Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt. Those who plan to attend the lecture are encouraged to call the Nashville Parthenon at 615.862.8431 to reserve a seat.

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