This event is presented in partnership with The National Arts Club.






James C. Wright, Director of University of Toronto Excavations at Kommos in Southern Crete, discusses the prehistoric port at Kommos. One of the ancient Mediterranean’s major harbors, Kommos is undergoing conservation with plans to open the site and neighboring museum to the public. During the second millennium hegemony of Knossos, Kommos became a distribution center to Cyprus, Egypt, the Near East from which it also imported goods. In the Mycenaean period, Kommos’s sphere expanded, reaching Italy and Sardinia. During the Iron Age under mainland Greece’s domination, Kommos again functioned as a maritime hub and sanctuary until the Roman Empire’s beginnings.


James C. Wright is the former Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and an emeritus Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Bryn Mawr College, in Pennsylvania. His career in archaeology began with training at Wharram Percy in Yorkshire, England, and then at the Etruscan settlement of Poggio Civitate near Siena in Tuscany. In 1972, he first came to Greece as a student member of the American School and participated in excavations at Ancient Corinth, the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, and at Kommos in the Mesara of Crete. From 1975–1977, he was Secretary of the School. In 1981 he began with his wife, archaeologist Dr. Mary Dabney, explorations of the prehistoric settlement on the hill of Tsoungiza in the Nemea Valley of Greece, a part of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project, which he directs, that surveyed the region. From 2002–2008, he was a leader of a team that excavated Mycenaean chamber tomb cemeteries in the Nemea Valley.

Wright’s primary research is in the evolution of complex societies in the Aegean in which he explores the social aspects of community formation and maintenance. He has long held an interest in ancient Greek architecture, especially as it informs the development of ancient communities and their sanctuaries, the regional character of ancient Greece, and the spread of Hellenic culture.

At Bryn Mawr, he has been chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology; from 1995–2000, he was Dean of its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, he was appointed for a five-year term as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.


Founded in 1898, the mission of The National Arts Club (NAC) is to stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts. The NAC's Archaeology Committee, chaired by Professor Michele Kidwell-Gilbert, invites prominent scholars and archaeologists from around the world to share their interesting work.