Najee Olya

PhD Candidate

Najee is a PhD candidate in the Program for Mediterranean Art and Archaeology (PMAA) studying under Dr. Tyler Jo Smith. Prior to his arrival at UVA, he earned a double B.A. with distinction in Anthropology and Classical Civilization at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an M.A. in Classical Archaeology at the University of Arizona. Najee’s research focus is the art and archaeology of Archaic and Classical Greece, with specific emphasis on pottery produced in the city of Athens. He is interested in such issues as identity, otherness, and how interactions between ancient Greeks and non-Greek peoples in the Mediterranean influenced Athenian material and visual culture. Najee’s dissertation, tentatively titled “Constructing the African in Ancient Greek Vase-Painting: Images, Meanings, and Contexts,” is an exploration of visual representations of African individuals that appear on the painted ceramics produced in Athens from the sixth through fourth centuries BCE, and the sociocultural milieu in which the creation of the vases was made possible. 

Najee has also spent significant time abroad and in the field. In Italy, he has excavated at Poggio del Molino, and since 2018 he has worked at the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project in Greece as a recipient of an Arcadian Fellowship. In 2017, Najee attended the Summer Session at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) as an awardee of a Hill Open Scholarship. For the academic year 2019-2020, Najee returned to the ASCSA as a Regular Member and was the recipient of the Bert Hodge Hill Fellowship, and more recently he was awarded the William Sanders Scarborough Fellowship as an Associate Membership. He is currently in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he holds the Bothmer Fellowship in Greek and Roman Art.