Mantha Zarmakoupi’s work addresses the broader social, economic, and cultural conditions underpinning the production of ancient art, architecture, and urbanism. She focuses on the art and architecture of the Hellenistic and Roman periods and undertakes to understand the ways in which the cultural interaction between Greeks and Romans informed their artistic production as well as the shaping of their built environment. She has published widely on Roman luxury villas as well as on the architecture, harbour infrastructure, and urban development of late Hellenistic and Roman Delos.
In her first monograph, Mantha examined the architecture of Roman luxury villas around the Bay of Naples to address the physical, social, and cultural factors that informed the architects’ design decisions (Designing for Luxury on the Bay of Naples (c. 100 BCE – 79 CE): Villas and Landscapes, Oxford UP 2014). She is now preparing a second monograph, also generated by her research on luxury villa architecture, on The idea of landscape in Roman luxury villas. She has also developed a VR digital model of the Villa of the Papyri that systematizes and visualizes data from past and ongoing archaeological fieldwork at the Villa and edited an interdisciplinary volume on the archaeology, reception and reconstruction of the Villa of the Papyri (The Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum: Archaeology, Reception, and Digital Reconstruction, De Gruyter 2010). Mantha’s current research extends the field of ancient urbanism in new directions. She works on a project on the urban growth of late Hellenistic and Roman Delos, addressing the relationship between economic and social change, urban growth, and physical infrastructure, in the context of which she co-directs an underwater fieldwork survey around Delos and Rheneia (2014-). She also co-directs with George Koutsouflakis an underwater survey around islands Levitha, Kinaros, and Maura in the central Aegean Sea (2018-) in order to examine the maritime connections of ancient Greece with Asia Minor.
Mantha co-leads with Simon Richards the Delos Network in order to investigate the history and legacy of the Delos symposia (1963-75), which were organized by architect and planner C. A. Doxiadis, in the context of 1960s and 1970s discussions about the future of urban planning. Her article “Balancing Acts Between Ancient and Modern Cities” presents preliminary results of this research. The network brings together scholars, architects, and planners, who are currently looking into this period of intellectual history, with a view not only to better understand its significance but also to address how the Delos debates compare with and feed into contemporary concerns about demographic pressures and environmental sustainability and their relation to historical precedents by architects, planners, and others. Finally, Mantha collaborates with colleagues from the Universities of Kiel, Athens, Paris, Aarhus, and Bergen in an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project (2017-20) that aims to create a digital learning environment and MOOC on Ancient Cities.
Mantha has a multidisciplinary training in architectural design (Athens), history and theory of architecture (Harvard), and classical archaeology (Oxford). She has been a Fellow at Freie Universität in Berlin (TOPOI), New York University (ISAW), the University of Cologne (Humboldt Stipendium), the Getty Research Institute (Visiting Scholar), the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies and the National Hellenic Research Foundation (Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship). Before joining the University of Pennsylvania, she was Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Birmingham.