AIA Lecture Addresses Human Sacrifice in Etruscan Art

Bonfante_modeling_Etruscan_garb_CROPPEDAs a student, Larissa Bonfante, Professor of Classics Emerita, New York University, was introduced to the Etruscans when she excavated at Cerveteri, one of their chief cities. Since that time Bonfante has devoted her career to the Etruscans of central Italy.

On Tuesday, October 14, Bonfante will deliver an Archaeological Institute of America lecture at 6 pm at the Nashville Parthenon in Centennial Park. Her lecture, titled “Human Sacrifice in Etruscan Art,” is given in honor of the retirement of Jack Sasson, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible and Professor of Classics. That the Etruscans, like all other ancient people, at one time practiced human sacrifice is proved by references in written sources and recent archaeological evidence. The lecture will survey the many representations of human sacrifice in Etruscan funerary art that eventually may have substituted for the actual practice.

Bonfante’s research interests include Roman and Etruscan archaeology and ancient dress. Bonfante has received numerous awards for her work, including the AIA’s most prestigious award, the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement (2007), and the Norton Lectureship (2007/2008). She has published extensively, including books or articles on Julian the Apostate, Roman triumphs, the Etruscan language, Etruscan mirrors and Poussin, ancient dress and nudity. Many of her books are accessible to nonspecialists in her efforts to bring Etruscan culture to a wide audience. She has organized several conferences, including Etruscan Myth: Images and Translations in 2009.

Bonfante has translated the plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim and curated her department’s collection of antiquities since 1973. A former Visiting Member of the Institute of Advanced Study, she is currently a member of the German Archaeological Institute, founder of the U.S. Section of the Istituto di Studi Etruschi and its bulletin, Etruscan News. Vice President of the New York Society of the Archaeological Society of America, Bonfante holds a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD degree from Columbia University.

Free and open to the public, Bonfante’s lecture is sponsored by the Nashville Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park, and Vanderbilt’s Department of Classical Studies, Department of Religious Studies, the Divinity School, and the Religious History Colloquium. Those who plan to attend the AIA lecture on October 14 are encouraged to call the Nashville Parthenon at 615.862.8431 to reserve a seat.

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