AIA - New Haven Society of the
Archaeological Institute of America
Christian Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity

John Pollini
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 4:30 P.M.
Yale University, Phelps Hall, Room 407
Joukowsky Lecture

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. This lecture examines 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. (This lecture is based on Professor Pollini’s present book project, “Christian Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity: A Study in Religious Intolerance and Violence in the Ancient World,” for which he received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.)


John Pollini is Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California.  He 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.  After completing his doctoral work in 1978, he taught as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Case Western Reserve University before being appointed an assistant professor in the Department of Classics at Johns Hopkins University, where he also served as Curator of the University's Archaeological Museum.  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. In the past he has participated in excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey and in Italy at Ghiaccio Forte (Scansano), the port of Tarquinia (Gravisca), and most recently at Ostia Antica and the Area Sacra of Saint Omobono (Rome).

Lecturer's Curriculum Vitae

John Pollini

For More Information on Lecture Topic:

M. Gaddis, There is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire (Berkeley 2005).

J. Pollini, “Christian Destruction and Mutilation of the Parthenon,” in Athenische Mitteilungen 122 (2007) 207-228.

E. Sauer, The Archaeology of Religious Hatred in the Roman and Early Medieval World (Gloucestershire 2003).

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