In this talk, prof. Laetitia La Follette traces some of her adventures as an archaeologist working on ancient monuments in Rome. These involved going deep underground on the Aventine Hill and finding first, an ancient house with mural decoration. That in turn led to a Roman princess, and a long-lost imperial bath complex.
She also shares the way she has reconstructed the outlines of a cold-case: the nineteenth-century theft of a series of exquisite marble portraits of a Roman noble family which were spirited out of Rome first to Paris and eventually wound up in Copenhagen.
Initially drawn to this area of the world by her love of languages (French, German, modern Greek, Italian), she discovered monuments spoke to her more powerfully than texts. Since her arrival at the University, she has developed two other passions, the teaching and learning of art history and the protection of cultural heritage. As Director of “A History of Art for the 21st Century “, she produced, edited and contributed as co-author to this collaborative grant-funded e-text involving departmental and Five College colleagues. The multimedia online modules (known as DATAS: Digital Assignments for the Teaching of Arthistorical Skills) help students in introductory surveys of master skills and learn basic concepts.
For the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), North America’s largest archaeological organization, she has served as President (2020-2023), First Vice President (2017-2020) and Vice President for Cultural Heritage (2011-2017.) She is currently working on a book under contract with Oxford University Press on the portraits of a Roman noble family, the Licinii Crassi, discovered in Rome in 1884-1885. The sixteen marble portraits were smuggled out of Italy to Paris, and then sold to a Danish collector so they are now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen.