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Zoë Kontes ’95 is associate professor and chair of the Department of Classics at Kenyon College, where her research and award-winning teaching focus on classical archaeology and issues of cultural property. She loved her junior year at CYA so much that she stayed for the following summer language program on Paros, where she was joined by her brother Will Kontes ’98. Following her graduation from Bowdoin College, Kontes taught high school Latin and French for three years. Although she loved the classical languages, she had been inspired to study ancient material culture during her time at CYA, particularly by Professors Diamant and Yalouris. She was also eager to return to Greece, and so she enrolled in graduate school in Old World Archaeology at Brown University. While attending Brown, she spent two years studying at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. After earning her PhD, she began her career as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Duke University. Three years later, she took up her current position at Kenyon College.
Along the way, she excavated at sites in Sicily, Greece, and Cyprus. She incorporates material from these expeditions into her courses, which include surveys of both Greek and Roman art and archaeology. She also teaches seminars on Sicilian archaeology, Athenian topography and the illicit trade in antiquities, a course that is closely tied to her research interests. In 2015 she wrote an op-ed on the repatriation of antiquities for the New York Times, and she is the producer and host of Looted, a narrative podcast series on plundered antiquities, which draws on her experience as a college radio DJ. Kontes is also a Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Kontes is thrilled to be an alumna member of CYA’s Board of Trustees, and in Summer 2019 she got to return to CYA for the summer, this time as a professor. Students in her course traveled to Corinth and Nemea, Crete, Thessaloniki, and Naxos, as part of their study of the history of looting and cultural property management in Greece. They were joined by Kontes’s one-year-old daughter Kalliope, a.k.a. Poppy, CYA Class of 2039.