Staff Research Areas
My research focuses on three main topics: 1) the economies of prestate hierarchical societies, and in particular the articulation of household and political economies in such societies; 2) the role of both household and political economies in the rise of social inequality; and 3) the role of symbols and iconography in leveraging and legitimating social inequalities. These are, of course, closely related and intertwined topics, and they are less a series of discrete topics than themes that inform my research and influence my thinking. Most of my research is in the temperate latitudes of the North American mid-continent and east-central Europe, and examines various permutations of these three research themes. Currently most of my research efforts focus on NSF-funded excavations at the major Middle Bronze Age tell of Pecica Santul Mare in western Romania, and with continued iconographic studies of the so-called Southeastern Ceremonial Complex in the southeastern US. For more information, please see my website.
|Funerary Relief: Bust of a Woman
Seleucia on the Euphrates (?)
Roman, A.D. 97/98
The connection between mourning and lamentation in classical mythology and modern times has been an interest of mine in the past few years. In Homer and Greek tragedy, the mythical laments serve to underscore the horrors of war and especially its effect on women and children. I was pleased to find “Levitha” sitting up in the ancient gallery when I arrived at the Museum: a funerary bust of a woman dating about 97-98 CE. It is inscribed, which is how it is dated and the woman can be identified as “Levitha.” I hope to tie in recent scholarship on gestures and funerary monuments with the theme of mourning, focusing on this piece in our collection.
Up until now, my favorite topic for research was what I worked on while a research assistant to Dr. Gladys Weinberg, co-founder of the Museum of Art and Archaeology. Gladys generously shared with me the information she had gathered on theriaka or theriac, a medicine that was taken for more than two thousand years. The results of this research are published in "Theriaka: A Panacea for All Periods," Muse 29 & 30 (1995–96). This was my only illustrated article; Levitha should change that!
My particular areas of study are the cities of Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor, the Levant, and North Africa. The majority of my research has focused on architecture and its decoration from these areas, including the evolution of the classical orders and their modes of decoration. My current research concerns Masonry Style stucco in the Hellenistic East, particularly that from the LHSB (Late Hellenistic Stuccoed Building), a luxurious villa excavated by the Universities of Missouri and Michigan at Tel Anafa in Israel. More broadly, I am interested in the growth of the Hellenistic cosmopolis, the intermingling of Greek and non-Greek cultures, the syncretistic religions that formed during the period, the royal dynasties that governed these regions, and the resultant impact on the succeeding Roman empire.
Tel Anafa: The Decorative Stuccowork from the LHSB (Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplements) [in progress].
Contributor to Testament of Time, Selected Objects from the Collection of Palestinian Antiquities in the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Cranbury, NJ 2004).
"The Identity Crisis of a Roman Empress," Muse 36–38 (2002–2004) 44–66.
"Technique and Analysis of the Tel Anafa Stucco," Muse 33–35 (1999–2001) 4–13.
My research interests focus upon the complex phenomenon of material culture studies, how physical artifacts from the smallest scale such as our ancient glass collection to entire landscapes such as Francis Quadrangle can objectify culture. For example, my book The Gateway Arch: Fact & Symbol (1992) examines the many cultural meanings embodied in our tallest national monument. More recently, my research interest has evolved toward understanding how we interpret material culture and thereby translate messages from the past into the present; museum studies itself becomes a form of material culture study. Along that line, I currently write a column about heritage preservation for Missouri Life magazine exploring our historic sites and interpreting how they speak to us today. For more information, please see my website.
My work centers on Renaissance art, and my research encompasses a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, glass, rock crystal, ivory, textiles, and carpets. I have both published and taught on the theme of intercultural artistic influences between Europe and the Islamic world in a variety of media, and I am interested in the European-Islamic-Chinese nexus. My research also extends into the realm of decorative patterns, and I have worked a great deal on frames.
Mary Pixley, Contributor to One Hundred Stories: Highlights from the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, ed. by Elizabeth Johns, Giles Limited, London, 2008.
Mary Pixley, "Building the Old Masters Collection at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts," in Our Fondest Dreams and Hopes, Hagerstown, Maryland: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, pp. 14-24.
Mary Pixley, Contributor to John Singer Sargent: Complete Paintings, vol. 4, Early Figure Subjects and Landscapes, by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006.
Mary Pixley, Contributor to Catalogue of Sixteenth-Century Italian Paintings in the National Gallery, London, by Nicholas Penny, London: National Gallery in association with Yale University Press, 2004.