Born in Naples, a daughter of professor Giuliano Bonfante, Bonfante studied fine arts and classics at Barnard College, earning her BA in 1954; she completed her MA in classics from the University of Cincinnati in 1957 and her Ph.D. in art history and archaeology at Columbia University in 1966. She studied at Columbia with Otto Brendel. Bonfante received the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in 2007 from the Archaeological Institute of America.
- 1970. "Roman Triumphs and Etruscan Kings: The Changing Face of the Triumph." Journal of Roman Studies 60:49-66.
- 1975. Etruscan dress. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press. Reviews: American Journal of Archaeology 81.2:253-254
- 1979. The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim. translator, with Alexandra Bonfante-Warren.
- 1981. Out of Etruria : Etruscan influence north and south. Oxford: BAR.
- (with Giuliano Bonfante) The Etruscan language: an introduction, 1983
- 1986. ed. Etruscan life and afterlife: a handbook of Etruscan studies. Wayne State University Press.
- 1989. "Nudity as a Costume in Classical Art." American Journal of Archaeology 93.4:543-70.
- 1990. Reading The Past Etruscan. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- 1997 Corpus Speculorum Etruscorum USA / 3, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
- 2001. Italy and Cyprus in antiquity, 1500-450 BC : proceedings of an international symposium held at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University, November 16-18 2000. Nicosia: Costakis and Leto Severis Foundation.
- 2006. (with Judith Swaddling) Etruscan myths. University of Texas Press.
- 2006. (with Blair Fowlkes). Classical antiquities at New York University. Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider.
- 2011. The barbarians of ancient Europe: realities and interactions. Cambridge University Press.
- 2013. The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim. Bilingual Edition.
- Annuario della Nobiltà Italiana, XXXI edizione (Teglio, 2010), volume III, titolati umbertini
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