Kimberly Cassibry

Associate Professor of Art

Art and architectural historian specializing in the ancient Mediterranean.

book cover for Destinations in Mind, pale greenish gradient background with etched glass vessel in the centerMy research focuses on the ancient Mediterranean and asks what art and architecture can tell us about international relations and the experience of empire. Interests include global art history, classical reception studies, monuments and memory, and the politics of replicating antiquities.

My book Destinations in Mind: Portraying Places on the Roman Empire's Souvenirs was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. A companion website has bonus content, links to online resources, and over a thousand photographs from my research and travels.

I am currently writing a book about my favorite empress. In Collecting Julia Domna: Roman Portraits and Modern Museums, I consider why the empire's residents put this intriguing woman's face on dolls, paintings, sculptures, vessels, jewelry, and coins. I then explore the fascinating history of how these same portraits came to be in museums around the world.

Another book project focuses on my favorite landmarks. In Memorable Monuments: Designing and Transforming Triumphal Arches, I emphasize innovative features (such as bubbling fountains and zodiac archways) and unusual settings (such as soaring bridges). I also explore how these monuments have changed over time, some recycled for building materials, some destroyed for political reasons, and some reconstructed for heritage and tourism initiatives.

To create new resources for teachers and students, I am collaborating with Smarthistory (The Center for Public Art History) to broaden the site's coverage of the Roman Empire. So far, I have contributed essays on Egyptian Obelisks and Ancient Rome, Hadrian's Wall, The Dying Gaul, and Julia Domna's Portraits. A chapter on The Roman Empire in a Connected World is coming soon.

At Wellesley, my courses on the ancient Mediterranean and Mesopotamia address the political and social uses of art and architecture, as well as the modern lives of antiquities. Because seeing art in person is fundamental to understanding it, my classes analyze collections not just on campus, but also in nearby museums. They also explore and critique technologies of replication, from plaster casts to 3D prints.

I am honored to have received the 2019 Pinanski Teaching Prize and to have served as president of the college's chapter of the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

Selected Publications

Selected Talks

  • "A Curious Canon: Modelling Triumphal Arches for Mussolini's Mostra Augustea," Ancient Monuments and Fascist Italy panel, AIA Chicago 2024
  • "A Colonial Monument: Remembering an Ancient Triumphal Arch in France," Case Western University, 2023
  • "An Obelisk, A Glass, and a Cast: Why Mobility Matters for Roman Art History," Intersections and Entanglements panel, CAA New York, 2023
  • "Seeing the Roman Empire through Ancient Souvenirs," UMass Amherst, 2022
  • "The Captive Gaul in the River Rhône," Grounding Roman Sculpture panel, AIA San Diego, 2019
  • "Seeing the Supernatural: Art and Religion in Roman Gaul," ISAW, 2018
  • "The Tyranny of the Dying Gaul," Unlocking the Provinces symposium, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 2017
  • "Palmyra at the Crossroads", MFA Boston, 2016
  • "Gifts for the Gods: The Art of Devotion in Roman Gaul," Getty Villa, Los Angeles, 2015
  • "Gauls Dying and Victorious," Art of War symposium, Joukowsky Institute, Brown University, 2015


  • B.A., Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)
  • M.A., University of Texas (Austin)
  • Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)

Current and upcoming courses

  • This course explores the rich libraries, splendid palaces, and innovative public monuments that emerged in ancient Iraq between 3,300 BCE and 500 BCE. The royal jewels from the cemetery at Ur, the Law Code of Hammurabi, and the palatial sculptures from Nineveh feature among the case studies. The course also critiques international claims to these and other Iraqi antiquities, with a focus on their excavation by European empires and American universities; their acquisition by “encyclopedic” museums; and the digital colonialism of current replication schemes. We conclude by looking at the work of Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz, who has recreated many antiquities to protest their varied display and ongoing destruction. Students leave the course understanding how Iraq's ancient art and architecture have been used to negotiate power from antiquity to the present day.