CV |

Katherine Welch

(on fall 2019, on leave spring 2019)

Associate Professor of Fine Arts; Deputy Director, Excavations at Aphrodisias

PhD Classical Art and Archaeology, Institute of Fine Arts
MA History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts
BA Classics, Cornell University

My scholarly research interests lie in the ancient Mediterranean world.  I specialize in the Roman Empire, which lasted, an amazing one thousand years.  I am an art historian with an ardor and long-standing dedication for archaeology; two fields are inextricable in Greek-Roman studies.   I teach art and archaeology of the Roman Imperial period (particularly in Rome itself, Bay of Naples, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Southern France, Syria, and Spain).  I also teach Hellenistic Greek art (late 4th century BCE to late 1st century BC).

Having majored in biology and chemistry in university, preparing to apply to medical school, I switched fairly late to Classical literature and Archaeology.  I got my first job at Harvard University Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture, where "theory" was all-important at that time. I had to define what my own theories were -- a useful exercise.  I decided that a principle of Calculus would help -- the "Limit."  One can never be sure, but one may surmise to the nth degree.  That means using informed and imaginative speculation, combined with extant material data (works of art and architecture).  This life-changing experience on my part, I venture to say, shows how 'hard' Science may tangibly contribute to the Humanities in academe.

I have dealt with ancient Rome and its Empire using a whole range of methods: mainly visual engagement (I have a cultivated "eye"), combined with historical and philological knowledge. Thereby we come to historical reconstruction of artifacts and monuments: how, why, and by whom they were created in the Roman world -- which extended from the Black Sea to Morocco, and from Scotland to Syria -- with all of that vast area's subcultures included.

I have had the delight of being Director of Masters Studies at the IFA for two years (2014-16). I got to know our entire MA studentry and their various interests.  I made many speeches (with question and answer) with the goal of empowering students. I have also had many PhD students; most got tenure-track jobs and first class pre- and postdoctoral fellowships.  Many are now world experts in their chosen areas of Roman expertise.

I am an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at NYU. I am an Associate Member of the Classics Department and an Affiliated Faculty of the Institute of the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).  I also have an ongoing Affiliation at the Austrian Archaeological Institute, in Vienna.

I am Deputy Director of NYU's Archaeological Excavations at the ancient Roman (splendid) site of Aphprodias, Turkey.  I yearly recruit students (after rigorous examination and talks with each one), and I oversee of all aspects of the "Dig" in New York, including fundraising and our Turkish governmental Permit, among other tasks. 

I began "digging" in Cayuga County, NY in a nineteenth century farmstead, where the best finds where period-style shoes and bottles; in a Bronze Age site in Cyprus, where the special finds were carbonized organic remains and intact human skeletons that I dug with dental tools; then a Roman villa in an unexpected place; Basilicata, Italy (inland, South Italy); after that Sardis, Turkey, where I was numismatist and excavator of well appointed Late Antique houses, then NYU's site on Samothrace -- one of the two best preserved Hellenistic mystery cult shrines in Greece.

After that in 1991 I found my very own, permanent place at the Roman site of Aphrodisias, Turkey where I have worked until the present and ongoing. At the site in Turkey itself, I spend two months every year, looking after NYU students -- making sure they know what they are doing and why, dealing with a very large crew of Turkish workmen, visiting donors, and fellow team members.   Our young NYU students come to be highly respected by these workmen. This work is a great achievement in itself, in today's political climate. Indeed, it is critical, especially considering NYU's current global reach. 

I also do my own research at the site, of course.  I am publishing the Stadium there, a unique building used for Greek athletics and Roman spectacles.  The building is marble, huge, and extremely well preserved: 250 meters long and covered with Greek inscriptions (reserved seating). 

I have a major interest in ancient Roman architecture, but I am I also an expert in Roman sculpture.  Therefore, for example, I have published all of the (well documented) portraits from Pompeii, Italy -- likenesses of real people who lived then and there before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. I also published the definitive article on the famous Achilles and Penthesilea statue group from Aphrodisias, with the help of the Cast Gallery in Basel.

Here are some sample courses: War Booty and Roman Aesthetics; City of Rome: Romulus to Augustus; Conceptions of the City of Rome: Ancient and Modern; Bay of Naples; Issues in the Aesthetics of Roman Domestic Space; Sculpture and Architecture of Aphrodisias, Turkey; Art and Archaeology of Roman Spectacle; Sculpture of the Hellenistic and Roman Republican Periods; Ancient Roman Spain; Art and Archaeology of Western Asia Minor; Ancient Rome: a Millenium Miracle. Currently: Ancient Roman Syria (a timely topic).

I am a Member of NYU's Committee on Committees and Rules (ongoing), and I am a Member of NYU Women's' Faculty Caucus Committee (ongoing).  I am also an elected member of the Advisory Council of the American Academy in Rome and that of the American School of Classical Studies, Athens.

As for recent IFA Committees: I have been on the Financial Aid Committee; the Futures and Fundraising Committee; the M.A. Admissions Committee, the Fellowships Committee; the IFA and Frick Symposium Committee; and I was chair of Student Professional Development.

I am on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Archaeology, the premier journal in my field in English, reviewing articles for publication.

I am working on a book called Roman Aesthetics of War (to be submitted to Cambridge University Press, as solicited by CUP).  I am publishing The Stadium at Aphrodisias (forthcoming, Aphrodisias Excavations Monograph Series) and Aphrodisias Papers V, Eds. R.R.R. Smith and K. E. Welch. In 2009, I published The Roman Amphitheatre from its Origins to the Colosseum, Cambridge University Press.

I also have some recent articles, for example: "The Colosseum" Oxford University Press; “The scaenae frons (theater façade) of C. Julius Zoilos and the Stadium at Aphrodisias: Two Monuments of Augustan Imperial Victory" (submitted to Istanbuler Mitteilungen, 2016); “The Achilles and Penthesilea Statue Group from the Tetrastyle Court of the Hadrianic Baths at Aphrodisias” Istanbuler Mitteilungen 2013; “The Roman Arena in Late Republican Italy: A Re-Evaluation” forthcoming in Sport in the Greek and Roman Worlds, ed. T. Scanlon (Oxford University Press) text completed; coming out 2016; “A Bronze Gilded Statuette of a Crouching Lion (Roman; 5th – 4rth centuries BCE) from the Robert Lehman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Catalogue of the Robert Lehman Collection (Volume: Sculpture and Decorative Arts) eds. E. Haverkamp-Begemann et al. (2012)

I have some articles in preparation, e.g.: "Judicial Process and Public Visibility in the Greek Agora, Roman Forum, and in Pagan and Early Christian Basilicas” (for submission to Festschrift in Honor of James C. Anderson, jr, to be published by the American Academy in Rome, 2017), Ed. Prof. S. Lusnia.

I also have some recent lectures. “The Colosseum in Rome, Architecture and Cultural Context” Italian Embassy, Washington DC; "The Roman Theater and Stadium at Aphrodisias, Two Monuments of Augustan Imperial Victory" Rutgers University, Art History Department 2015 Distinguished Speaker Series; “Ancient Roman Aphrodisias: New Work”; University of Pennsylvania, University Museum Lecture Series in Ancient Art and Archaeology, also at the NY National Arts Club; “Aphrodisias, 2012” (with R.R.R. Smith at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts; “The Stadium at Aphrodisias" on site, at Aphrodisias, Turkey (Aphrodisias Seminar Series); “Roman Republican Manubial Temples: Issues of Method and Interpretation”for: Archaeology and the City: A Conference on Ancient Rome, Columbia University Center for The Ancient Mediterranean, also at the Department of Art History and Archaeology The Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna; "Aphrodisias 2011” (with R.R.R. Smith)New York University, Institute of Fine Art; "Pagan and Early Christian Basilicas: Judicial Process and Public Visibility in the Greek Agora, Roman Forum, and in "Early Christianity" Columbia Universityand at Tulane University, Department of Classical Studies.

In 2012 I chaired a session at Archaeological Institute of America (eight speakers): "Recent work at Aphrodisias, Turkey."

Also, I am a member of the Advisory Council, American Academy in Rome (ongoing) and the Managing Committee, American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ongoing).

I Appeared in PBS's Nova (in conjunction with European Arte): “The Colosseum” (aired spring 2015)

My major academic responsibilities include: Teaching, Fundraising, and Maintenance re: NYU’s ancient Roman archaeological excavations in Aphrodisias, Turkey.  This includes supervision of the activities of the Excavation Director and my IFA graduate students at the site itself.  Regarding the latter, I spend 7-8 weeks with the students and colleagues in Turkey on site, teaching students and overseeing their work, six days a week.

I am now helping to prepare for our groundbreaking 3D modeling and 3D printing of monuments at Aphrodisias.  I find this work extremely rewarding, and I believe it is critical for NYU as a whole.  I am grateful to be involved in this forefront of archaeology.

Research Interests

Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting of the Hellenistic/Republican, and Roman Imperial periods (particularly in Rome, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Germany, and Spain)

Sample Courses

War Booty and Roman Aesthetics
City of Rome: Romulus to Augustus
Conceptions of City of Rome: Ancient and Modern
Issues in the Aesthetics of Roman Domestic Space
Sculpture and Architecture of Aphrodisias, Turkey
Art and Archaeology of Roman Spectacle
Sculpture of the Hellenistic and Roman Republican Periods
Ancient Roman Spain 
Art and Archaeology of Western Asia Minor

Selected Publications


Roman Aesthetics of War (in preparation) 

The Roman Amphitheater from its Origins to the Colosseum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (paperback 2008)

Dillon, S and K. E. Welch, eds. Representations of War in Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.Introduction (pp. 1-26) and chapter (pp. 91-161) by K. Welch (paperback 2009)

Selected Articles

”The Achilles and Penthesilea statue Group from the Tetrastyle Court in the Hadrianic Baths at Aphrodisias" (with M. Gensheimer; forthcoming in Istanbuler Mitteilungen 2013)
"Judicial Process and Public Visibility in the Greek Agora, Roman Forum, and in Pagan and Early Christian Basilicas” in preparation

"Pompeian Men and Women in Portrait Sculpture." In The World of Pompeii, edited by P. Foss & J. Dobbins. New York: Routledge, 2007.

“Some Architectural Prototypes for the (6th-7th c. AD) Auditoria of Kom el- Dikka and three earlier Comparanda from Aphrodisias in Caria.” In Alexandria: Auditoria of Kom El-Dikka and Late Antique Education, Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplement 8, edited by T. Derda and T. Markiewicz, 115-133.Warsaw: Warsaw University, 2007. 

"Art of the Roman Republican Period." In The Blackwell Companion to the Roman Republic, edited by N. Rosenstein and R. Marstein-Marx, 496-542. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
"Esther B. Van Deman" Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists,, G. M.  Cohen & M. S. Joukowsky, eds., University of Michigan Press (2004) 68-108. (paperback 2006)

"A New View Origins of the Roman Basilica: the Atrium Regium, the Graecostasis, and Roman Diplomacy." Journal of Roman Archaeology 17 (2003): 5-34.

"Nerone e i Flavi: dialoghi fra la Domus Aurea ed il Colosseo, il quarto tipo di ritratto di Nerone e l'immagine di Vespasiano." In Neronia VI: Rome à l'époque néronienne, edited by J.-M. Croisille & Y. Perrin, 123-140. Bruxelles: Editions Latomus, 2002.

"Roman Sculpture" In Oxford Illustrated History of Art, edited by M. Kemp, 38-41.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
"Subura." In Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae Vol. IV, edited by E. M. Steinby, 379-383. Rome: Quasar, 1999. 

"The Stadium at Aphrodisias in Caria." American Journal of Archaeology 102 (1998): 547-569.

Selected Honors

Affiliated Member, Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna
1984 Foundation Research grant
Juror, Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome 
Advisory Board, American Journal of Archaeology 
Research Fellow, American Philosophical Society 
Research Fellow, American Research Institute in Turkey 
Rome Prize Fellowship, American Academy in Rome 
Oscar Broneer Fellow, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Dean’s Fellowship, Harvard University