B.A., University of North Carolina; M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan
Bryan E. BurnsAssociate Professor of Classical Studies
Archaeologist engaged in the study of Mediterranean exchange in the Late Bronze Age, conducting fieldwork in Greece.
My research specialty is Aegean prehistory, the study of early cultural phases in the Greek mainland and Aegean islands, in particular the Late Bronze Age societies of Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece (ca. 1700 - 1100 BCE). In my recently published book, Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity, (Cambridge 2010), I study a range of imported artifacts—including objects made of ivory, glass, rare stones, and precious metals — that were distinguished by their exotic material and uncommon style. I offer a new understanding of the effects of long-distance trade by directly considering the possibilities represented through the traded objects themselves in their Mycenaean contexts. I am actively engaged in archeological fieldwork and am currently a co-director of the Eastern Boeotia Archeological Project. This surface survey studies the ancient settlements in a broad agricultural plain in the region of Boeotia in central Greece, just north of Athens.
The courses I offer at Wellesley cover a broad scope of topics in Greek and Roman archeology, including thematic courses on cities, ancient spectacles, and the representation of myths in text and art. My goal is to introduce students to archeological data and methods, as we explore the ways that social messages are spread through material objects. I am teaching a First Year Seminar called Archeology and Artifacts: Exploring Classical Cultures through Objects. Working with the diverse collection of artifacts maintained by the Classical Studies Department — including pottery, coins, lamps, and figurines — students will learn about the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean as well as methods of artifact analysis and theories of material culture studies.
I am directly involved with a number of professional organizations in archeology and classics. I am co-chair of the Lambda Classical Caucus, an affiliate organization of the American Philological Association, which promotes research bridging classics, gender theory, and the history of sexuality. I was recently elected to the Alumni Council of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The ASCSA is the premiere research institute for the study of antiquity in Greece, and a number of Wellesley students have been fortunate to attend the school's Summer Session.