University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Pittman, Holly, Ph.D.

Holly Pittman, Ph.D.
Bok Family Professor in the Humanities, Department of the History of Art
Curator of the Near Eastern Section and Deputy Director for Academic Programs, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Date appointed: 1990

Holly Pittman received her B.A. from SUNY at Binghamton in 1971, and from Columbia University her M.A. in 1975, her M.Phil. in 1977, and her Ph.D. with distinction in 1989. She worked as a curatorial assistant in Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for fifteen years. Prof. Pittman is the Bok Family Professor in the Humanities in the School  of Arts and Sciences and Chairman of the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to being named the Bok Family Professor, she held the College for Women Class of 1963 Endowed Term Professorship in the Humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences. She is also the Curator of the Near Eastern Section and Deputy Director for Academic Programs at the Penn Museum.

Prof. Pittman has excavated at Melissa in Cyprus, Erbaba, Hacinebi Tepe, and Titrish Huyuk in Turkey, Tell Leilan in Syria, al-Hiba in Iraq, and Tal-i Malyan in the Fars province of Iran. Her work at Tal-i Malyan was particularly significant, leading to her Ph.D. research on the structure and function of glyptic images. She was an Associate Director of the Hacinebi Archaeological Excavations (1992–1999), in the Euphrates river valley of southeast Turkey. She has had primary publication responsibilities for the art and particularly the glyptic art from the sites of Tal-i Malyan; Uruk period Tell Brak; and Uruk period Hacienbi Tepe. She serves as a Senior Project Editor for the Cheshmeh Ali Publication Project, focusing on the publication of the final report of the prehistoric site of Cheshmeh Ali on the Teheran Plain of north-central Iran.

She co-curated with Senior Fellow Richard Zettler the traveling exhibition of the "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur," and the re-installation of the exhibit at the Penn Museum, entitled "Iraq's Ancient Past: Rediscovering the Royal Cemetery of Ur" in 2009, as well as its grand re-opening in the spring of 2011.

Prof. Pittman is author of seminal books and articles and collaborator on numerous studies on the art of the Bronze Age in the Near East including: Art of the Bronze Age: Southeastern Iran, Western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984; Ancient Art in Miniature, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987; Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998; Excavations at Tepe Yahya, Iran 1967–1975, Vol. 3, The Third Millennium, Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum Press, 2001; Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, 2nd Ed., New York: W. Norton & Co., 2008.

Her current research interests center around the excavation of the sites of Konar Sandal South and North in the region of Jiroft in south-central Iran, as she prepares the results of six seasons of excavation of the two mounds and the exploration and survey of the region. She is active in the development of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU. She is the team leader for the Transregional Group on Art of the European Union project ARCANE, coordinating the third millennium BCE regional chronologies across the Near East.


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