“Dr. Lisa Çakmak Joins Staff of Art Institute of Chicago as Department Chair”

      The Art Institute of Chicago (A.I.C.) announced on Tuesday, July 6, A.D. 2020 that Dr. Lisa Ayla Çakmak had been appointed Chair of the Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium.  This department has collections of artworks and artifacts produced by Greek, Etruscan, and Roman artists and craftsmen.  These include sculptures produced in stone, clay, and bronze; jewelry; vases; glass; and mosaics.  They illustrate the development of Western Art from the Third Millennium B.C. to the time of the Byzantine Empire (also known as the Eastern Roman Empire whilst the Western Roman Empire still existed).

      Dr. Lisa Ayla Çakmak spent the previous ten years at the Saint Louis Art Museum (S.L.A.M.).  The post she held there most recently, from 2016 to 2020, was Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Association Curator.  The A.I.C. stated, “During her tenure, she oversaw tremendous changes to the museum’s galleries, managing reinstallation of the Greek and Roman art galleries, as well as the museum’s Egyptian and Numismatic collections.”

      From 2006 to 2010, she participated in excavations at Tel Kedesh, Israel.[1]  Ms. Çakmak wrote her dissertation on Hellenistic seal impressions found at the site.  Currently, she is working with other excavators to publish and present a comprehensive overview of all the “small finds” from Tel Kedesh.  Most recently, she submitted a chapter on the ancient seals from the Hellenistic Maresha.[2]

      According to the A.I.C., “She initiated and realized the critically acclaimed [exhibition] Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds (2018).”  This was the S.L.A.M.’s “largest-grossing special exhibition” in twenty-five years.

      Dr. Lisa Ayla Çakmak earned her A.B. at Princeton University, her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, and her M.B.A. at Washington University in St. Louis.  The A.I.C. stated, “Çakmak has lectured and published widely on an extensive range of scholarly and professional topics, including the roles of women, hybridization, and identity in the Hellenistic world, as well as museum professional training and career paths.”

Figure 1 Credit: The Art Institute of Chicago Caption: This is that Dr. Lisa Ayla Çakmak, the newly-appointed Chair of the Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium.

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[1] Kedesh was a Canaanite city which the ancient Hebrews conquered under the leadership of Joshua, according to the Book of Joshua.  In the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judea, Kedesh was one of the six Cities of Refuge to which men who had accidentally committed manslaughter would flee to seek asylum rather than be killed by vengeful relatives of the victim.  An Assyrian king destroyed the city.

[2] Maresha was a city in modern Israel that went from being occupied by Hebrews before the Babylonian conquest to being occupied by Edomites, Greeks, Sidonians, and Nabataeans under the rule of Persian and Macedonian-Greek kings (including Alexander the Great) until the Parthians destroyed the city in 40 B.C. during a war between Antigonus II Matthias, the last Hasmonean king of Judea (and a vassal of the Parthian Shah), and the infamous Herod the Great, an Edomite king of Judea who had converted to Judaism and was a client of Roman leaders including Pompey Magnus, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, and Emperor Augustus.  

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