Marilyn Skinner

Marilyn Skinner,

Professor of Classics, Emerita, UA

Wednesday, July 1, 2020,

2:30-3:30 p.m.,

a Zoom Webinar*

Note: The Arizona Senior

Academy Building remains closed.

In 1937, archaeologists from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens excavated a well near an ancient Athenian agora or marketplace, which had fallen into disuse after the fifth century BCE and was then used as a refuse dump. In this well, they found hundreds of infant skeletons as well as numerous skeletons of domestic dogs. Lurid theories for the shocking discovery soon began circulating. Human sacrifice or plague were among earlier theories proposed; later speculation centered on sex-selective exposure of undesired female infants. In this presentation, Marilyn Skinner will report on the conclusions reached by a team of archaeologists who have recently re-examined the material evidence from the well using new scientific methods unavailable to previous researchers. Their findings document the effects of ancient Greek attitudes toward newborn children and also help us understand actual conditions of existence for non-elite families. 

Marilyn B. Skinner is a Professor of Classics Emerita in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics at the University of Arizona. She earned a M.A. degree in Latin from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University. In addition to publishing studies of Roman literature and culture during the Republican and Augustan periods, Marilyn is a social historian specializing in ancient gender and sexuality. She was a co-editor of the essay collection Roman Sexualities (1997), which pioneered work on Roman sexual protocols, and also authored the first comprehensive textbook on ancient sexuality, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture (2005; 2nd rev. ed. 2013). Her biography Clodia Metelli: The Tribune’s Sister (2011) is a sober, non-judgmental study of an aristocratic Roman woman whose political and personal life is frequently painted in lurid tones.

Written by Roxy Mitchem-Horn, Academy Village Volunteer

*Directions for accessing the Webinar may be obtained from

July 1: “Babies in the Well: the ‘Agora Bone Well’ and the Ancient Greek Infant”