Iris Love

Iris Cornelia Love (August 1,1933 – April 17, 2020) was an American classical archaeologist, best known for the rediscovery of the Temple of Aphrodite, Knidos.

Iris Love
Born(1933-08-01)August 1, 1933
DiedApril 17, 2020(2020-04-17) (aged 86)
Alma materInstitute of Fine Arts, New York University
OccupationArt Historian, Archaeologist
Notable work
Discovery and excavation of the Temple of Aphrodite, Knidos
Partner(s)Liz Smith
FamilyGuggenheim family maternal side

Early careerEdit

In 1933, Iris Cornelia Love was born in New York to Cornelius Love and Audrey Josephthal, a maternal great great granddaughter of Meyer Guggenheim.[1]

From an early age, she was interested in archaeology and art history, encouraged experts who frequented her parents' home, such as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art James Rorimer and archaeologist Gisela Richter.[2]

Love completed her Bachelor of Arts at Smith College, which included a year abroad at the University of Florence. During the pursuit of her bachelor's thesis in Italy, she compared Etruscan warrior figures at the National Archaeological Museum, Florence with those at the Met in New York and concluded the latter was housing fakes. Out of respect for her connections in New York, she initially hesitated to publish her substantiations, and decided to warn them when she was ready to release the findings in 1960. The museum retaliated by announcing the forgeries to The New York Times, without acknowledging her work.[3]

Love never finished the beginnings of her doctorate at New York University, instead working on an excavation on the island of Samothrace in the Aegean Sea from 1957 to 1965. She later became assistant professor at C.W. Post Long Island University (LIU Post).[4]

Knidos and controversyEdit

Iris Cornelia Love is perhaps best known for her archaeological work in Knidos, which began when she traveled there with Turkish archaeologist Aşkıdil Akarca and continued after raising funds from Long Island University for further excavation on an annual basis. In 1969, her team discovered a foundation that Love thought was the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite, confirming the instinct with inscriptions found the following year.[5]

The discovery attracted international media attention when it was presented at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, and attracted many famous guests to the excavation site, including Mick Jagger and Bianca Jagger. This fanfare called Love's interpretation into question, with critics accusing her of converting the excavation into an exclusive holiday spot.

The year 1970 also found Love involved in another controversial research discussion. She believed she had found the original head of Aphrodite by the artist Praxiteles in the depots of the British Museum, which would have been one of the most spectacular discoveries in the history of ancient art. Greco-Roman Curator Bernard Ashmole vehemently contested this interpretation (and the implication that he had overlooked the masterpiece by then), stirring a dispute in the press. With this rebuke, Love concentrated on the search for the statue in continued excavations, with numerous deep search trenches created that still shape the area of ancient Knidos.[6]

The Turkish government revoked her research license for Knidos and Love began several new research projects, including in Ancona and the Gulf of Naples, where she primarily searched for other Aphrodite shrines. She subsequently retired from archeology, living between Greece, Italy, and New York where she lived for many years with the well-known tabloid journalist Liz Smith and devoted herself to breeding dachshunds, for which she won several prizes.[7]

Iris Cornelia Love died on April 17, 2020 at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan of COVID-19.[8]

Notable publicationsEdit

  • A stylistic discussion concerning the authenticity of the three Etruscan warriors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In: Marsyas. Studies in the history of art. Nr. 9, 1960–1961, S. 14–35.
  • Kantharos or Karchesion? A Samothracian contribution. In: Lucy Freeman Sandler (Hrsg.): Essays in memory of Karl Lehmann. New York 1964, S. 204–222.
  • Knidos-excavations in 1967, Turkish Archaeology Magazine
  • Knidos-excavations in 1968. Turkish Archaeology Magazine, No. 17,2, 1968, S. 123–141.
  • A preliminary report of the excavations at Knidos, 1969, American Journal of Archaeology. No. 74, 1970, 149–155.
  • Preliminary report of the excavations at Knidos, 1970, American Journal of Archaeology. No. 76, 1972, S. 61–76.
  • A preliminary report of the excavations at Knidos, 1971. In: American Journal of Archaeology. No. 76, 1972, S. 393–405.
  • Excavations at Knidos, 1971. In: Turkish Archaeology Magazine. No. 20,2, 1973, S. 97–109.
  • Excavations at Knidos 1972. In: Turkish Archaeology Magazine. No. 21,2, 1974, S. 85–96.
  • A preliminary report of the excavations at Knidos, 1972. In: American Journal of Archaeology. No. 77, 1973, S. 413–424.
  • A brief summary of excavations at Knidos 1967–1973. In: Ekrem Akurgal (Hrsg.): The proceedings of the Xth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Ankara – Izmir 23.–30.IX.1973. Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1978, S. 1111–1133.
  • Ophiuchus Collection. Florence 1989, ISBN 88-7038-174-9.
  • John H. Davis: Die Guggenheims. Raubritter und Menschenfreunde. Aus dem Englischen von Rosemarie Winterberg. Schweizer Verlagshaus, Zürich 1984, ISBN 3-7263-6433-1, S. 368–377, 393–395.
  • Michael Gross: Rogues' Gallery. The secret history of the moguls and the money that made the Metropolitan Museum. Broadway Books, New York 2009, ISBN 978-0-7679-2488-7, S. 256–258 (input from Oscar White Muscarella)


  1. ^ Martin Filler: Love Among the Ruins. Departures. 2002, 30 June 2014.
  2. ^ Bob Morris: In Iris Love’s Wide Circle of Friends. In: The New York Times. 2. May 2012, 30. June 2014, Lincoln Evening Journal, 9 November 1970
  3. ^ Iris Love in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  4. ^ Finger im Staub. Nomen est omen: Eine Dame namens Love entdeckte den Tempel der Liebe. Der Spiegel 4/1970. 19 January 1970, published 30 June 2014.
  5. ^ Christine Mitchell Havelock: The Aphrodite of Knidos and her successors. A historical review of the female nude in Greek art. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1995, ISBN 0-472-10585-X, S. 60–61.
  6. ^ Christine Bruns-Özgan: Knidos. Wolfgang Radt (Hrsg.): Stadtgrabungen und Stadtforschung im westlichen Kleinasien. Geplantes und Erreichtes. Internationales Symposion 6./7. August 2004 in Bergama (Turkey) (= Byzas. Band 3). Ege Yayınları, Istanbul 2006, ISBN 975-8071-24-6, S. 168.
  7. ^ Judy Wieder: Liz Smith Tells on Herself. The Advocate. 24 February 2009, 30 June 2014 (English).
  8. ^