Antioch: The Lost Ancient City

Title: Antioch: The Lost Ancient City
Author: Christine Kondoleon
Publisher:  Princeton University Press
Date of Publication: 2000

Language: English
ISBN: 0691049335
Price: (used copies) ranges from $59.95 to $120.00 online
Description: 352pp, softcover, with many illustrations
Availability: Although now out of print, fine copies are available through major distributors and sellers.

Book Release

This lavish exhibition catalog brings to life Antioch, the magnificent city known for its Hellenic culture and luxurious way of life, once ranking with Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople as one of the great metropolises of the Roman and early Christian world. Located in what is now southern Turkey, Antioch was the capital of Ancient Syria, a vital marketplace at the crossroads between East and West. It was here that St. Paul preached to the first gentile community to be called "Christians" and where a Greek-speaking Jewish culture flourished alongside Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern cults. A large middle-class shared in the wealth and culture of the city, and art abounded in numerous forms, especially in beautiful mosaics depicting scenes from mythology and everyday life. Featuring 118 objects excavated from the city's ruins, all reproduced in full color, Antioch: The Lost Ancient City recreates the spatial sensation, visual splendor, and cultural richness of this urban center.

Devastated by an earthquake in 526 C.E., as well as by fires, plagues and invasions by Persians, Antioch survived only in memory through ancient written accounts until the 1930s, when excavations revealed a wealth of finds from the private houses of its inhabitants, including a large cache of floor mosaics. In addition, archaeologists found several churches, a stadium, a circus, a theater, and several baths. This catalog displays and describes the excavated artifacts--mosaics, sculpture, glass, metalwork, coins--within their architectural and cultural contexts, thereby evoking the street life as well as the domestic lives of Antioch's citizens. Among the treasures are the mosaics The Drinking Contest between Dionysos and Herakles and The Judgment of Paris, the Antioch chalice, gold jewelry from Syria, bronze tyche figurines, and mosaics of river and sea deities. Antioch emerges as a compelling model of a melting-pot city, one that challenges our own notions of civic community and diversity.

The contributors are Susan Boyd, Bernadette Brooten, John J. Dobbins, Anna Gonosova, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Florent Heintz, Sandra Knudsen, Christine Kondoleon, Michael Maas, William Metcalf, James Russell, Sarolta Takacs, Cornelius Vermeule III, and Fikret Yegul. [from, 19 November 2006]


A serious attempt is made to set the mosaics in their architectural context. . . ."--New York Review of Books [from, 19 November 2006]

"[An] excellent catalog, creating, in effect, a handsomely illustrated memoir of ancient Antioch, once lost and now found again."--Choice [from, 19 November 2006]

"[Not a] mere exhibition catalog... [, but also a] standard text on the art and culture of an ancient civilization."--Lamia Doumato, Art Documentation [from,19 November 2006].

About the Author

Christine Kondoleon was Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Worcester Art Museum at the time of the Antioch exhibit. She is currently the George D. & Margo Behrakis Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Her books include Domestic and Divine: Roman Mosaics in the House of Dionysus and, with Anna Gonosova, Art of Late Rome and Byzantium in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Kondoleon is the coeditor, with Bettina Bergmann, of The Art of Ancient Spectacle.  Most recently, she has produced the catalogue with John Herrmann Jr. for the ancient Greek athletics exhibition at MFA, Games for the Gods: The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Olympic Spirit. She has been a distinguished lecturer at the University of New Hampshire for the John C. Rouman Classical Lecture Series, delivering the twelfth lecture in October 2006: "From House to Church: Charting the Course of Artistic Transformations in Early Byzantine Art."

(Posting date 19 November 2006 )

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