The Department of Classical Archaeology researches and presents the culture of the Mediterranean basin – Crete, the Cyclades, Mycenaean and Classical Greece, Etruscan and Roman Italy, and other parts of the Roman world. The objects in the collection, which represent not only many Classical cultures but also a broad range of media and themes, span a period from the third millenium BCE to the fourth century CE. Among the highlights of the holdings are exceptional Cycladic figures, rare pieces of Classical Greek pottery, and important collections of Attic gravestones, South Italian pottery and gemstones, and Etruscan art.
All of Western civilization drank deeply from the fount of Classical Greece, the birthplace of the much of the philosophy, sciences and arts, epic literature and mythology, theater, athletic games, and social and political values of the west. Greek styles of architecture, sculpture, and painting have been imitated for centuries, serving as inspiration for Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Neoclassical styles, as well as for Romanticism and abstract modern art. The display of original finds of Classical archaeology in the context of an encyclopedic museum with other rich fine arts collections makes it possible to examine the sources of much of Western culture at close hand and to approach the heirs to the Greeks with greater understanding.
Rodney E. Soher Senior Curator of Classical Archaeology