March 25, 2009
Contact: Karen Cardinal
Accounting, Web and Marketing Manager, Mead Art Museum

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, April 17, at noon in the Mead Art Museum, Luca Grillo, assistant professor of classics at Amherst College, will present a 10-minute talk on one of the Mead’s renowned group of Assyrian reliefs. The talk is part of the museum’s monthly series of free Faculty Lunchtime Talks and is free and open to the public. 

The alabaster reliefs Grillo will discuss were excavated during the mid-19th century from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, in modern-day Iraq, and were installed at the Octagon of Amherst College in 1855. Among the first objects of archaeological or aesthetic interest to come to Amherst, they were moved to the Mead upon its opening in 1949 and remain among the oldest objects in the museum’s collection. Two of the reliefs in the group each depict a winged and human-headed genie who served as a protective spirit.

Grillo brings extensive knowledge in Greek and Latin literature, history and material culture of the ancient world to his classrooms. Originally from Milan, Italy, he has been teaching in the United States since 1998 and earned a Ph.D. in classics from Princeton University in 2008. He taught Latin language at Amherst last semester and is currently offering a course that investigates life in Ancient Rome. Some of his forthcoming scholarly articles will consider the writings of Virgil and Cicero, as well as the transformation of pagan temples into churches in the 4th century.

“Professor Grillo has made enthusiastic use of the Mead’s collections in his course curriculum,” said Elizabeth Barker, director at the Mead.  “We’re honored to have him speak publicly on our Assyrian reliefs.”

The Mead’s Faculty Lunchtime Talks are made possible with support from the Amherst Arts Series. A complete schedule of the lectures is posted on the Mead’s Web site,

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.