Digging Up the Past

Choragic Monument of Lysicrates
August 12, 2019

Digging Up The Past

Last month, Milette Gaifman, Associate Professor of History of Art and Classics and member of Archaia, the Yale Initiative for the study of ancient and pre-modern cultures and societies, undertook a new exploration of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the acropolis of Athens. The monument was originally designed to celebrate the award of the first prize in a choral performance sponsored by a wealthy Athenian at the festival of  City Dionysia of 335/4 BCE. The more than 10-meter-tall structure is among the first examples of the Corinthian order and features an intriguing mythological relief with the images of Dionysos, satyrs, and pirates becoming dolphins. Unsurprisingly, it became the source of inspiration for artists and architects of the modern era around the world.  With the help of a massive scaffolding structure, and using new technology of digital photography and laser measuring, Professor Gaifman is providing new insight and understanding into this iconic but perplexing Athenian monument. A preview of this research was featured in the distinguished 2018 Louise Smith Bross Lecture, “How to View a Dionysiac Monument”, delivered by Prof. Gaifman at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Department of Art History of the University of Chicago.