CV |

Katherine Welch

(on leave fall 2022, on sabbatical spring 2023)

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 pagan Roman Empire, which lasted nearly one thousand years. I am an art historian with an ardor and long-standing dedication to archaeology; art history and archaeology are inextricable in Greek-Roman studies.

I teach art and archaeology of the Roman Republican and Imperial periods (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).

As a youth, having majored in Science in university, preparing to apply to medical school, I switched fairly late to Classical literature and received my B.A. in Classics. I then received an M.A. in the History of Art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. I had 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, imaginative speculation, combined with all the available extant material data (works of art and architecture) and ancient texts. This mathematical analogy, I venture to say, shows how 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 (using a cultivated "eye"), combined with historical and philological knowledge. Therewith we come to historical reconstruction of artifacts and monuments: how they functioned, 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 had the delight of being Director of Masters Studies at the Institute for two years (2014-16). I got to know our entire MA student body during those years and their various interests. I made many speeches (with question and answer periods) with the goal of empowering our 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 Member of the Classics Department and an Affiliated Faculty of the Institute of the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).

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

I began "digging" at the age of eighteen in Cayuga County, NY in a nineteenth century farmstead, where the best finds where period-style shoes and bottles; then 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 well-preserved Roman villa in a (then) rather unexpected place: Basilicata (inland, South Italy); after that Sardis, Turkey, where I was numismatist and excavator of Lydian remains and well-appointed Late Antique houses, then NYU's site on Samothrace -- one of the two best preserved Hellenistic mystery cult shrines in Greece; and at the Mills and Industrial Facilities on the Janiculum Hill, Rome.

After these excavations, in 1991 I found my very own, permanent archaeological place at the Roman site of Aphrodisias, Turkey, where I have worked until the present time and ongoing as Deputy Director representing NYU. 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 crew of Turkish workmen, visiting donors and Friends, giving tours of the site to them, and having intellectual exchanges with fellow team members. Our young NYU students come to be highly respected by their Turkish colleagues and workmen. This kind of work is a great achievement in itself for students 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 that was used for Greek athletics and Roman gladiatorial spectacles. The building is marble, huge, and extremely well preserved: c. 270 meters long and covered with Greek inscriptions (for 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, Switzerland.

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; Vesuvius Erupts! Bay of Naples in Roman Times; 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 Millennium Miracle; and Ancient Roman Syria.

I am a Member of NYU's Committee for Academic Standards; have been on the Committee on Committees and Rules, NYU; and I am a Member of NYU Women's' Faculty Caucus Committee. 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 selected Institute of Fine Arts Committees: I have been on the Financial Aid Committee; the Futures and Fundraising Committee; the M.A. Admissions Committee, the Fellowships Committee; and I was Chair of Student Professional Development Committee.

I have also served for many years on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Archaeology reviewing articles for publication, and I am a Member of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Fellowship Committee, as of 2019.

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

Vesuvius Erupts! New Ancient Discoveries along the Bay of Naples
Unraveling and Decoding Ancient Roman Buildings: Form, Function, Decoration, Meanings
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 Stadium at Aphrodisias (in preparation)

"The Past and the Futures of World Heritage: Anastylosis at Aphrodisias, Turkey" (with T. Kaefer) ANAMED (Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations), 2022

The Roman Amphitheater from its Origins to the Colosseum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (paperback 2009)

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

“Neropolis” Visual Histories of the Classical World, Catherine M. Draycott, Rubina Raja, Katherine E. Welch, and William T. Wooton eds., Brepols (2018)

”The Achilles and Penthesilea statue Group from the Tetrastyle Court in the Hadrianic Baths at Aphrodisias" (with M. Gensheimer) 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.

"Greek Stadia and Roman Spectacles: Asia, Athens, and the tomb of Herodes Atticus," JRA 11 (1998) 117-145

Selected Honors

Visiting Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Graz, Austria
Affiliated Member, Austrian Archaeological Institute, Vienna
Elected Member, Committee of Academic Standards, New York University
Editorial Board, American Journal of Archaeolology
American Institute of Archaeolology, Fellowships Committee
American Academy in Rome, Advisory Board
Juror, Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome
Nominator, American Academy in Rome, Rome Prize competition
1984 Foundation Research Grant
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
Senior Common Room Member, Lowell House, Harvard University