Arthur received his A.B. from Harvard, and Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania. His research and publications focused on differences in technological use by different cultures, as well as what the differences between cultures tells us about them. He has worked on ancient Greek, near eastern and Etruscan bronzes; copper production in Cyprus; ceramic production in the ancient near east; and easel painting in the Italian Renaissance. He is currently writing a book on the use of myth in Medieval and Renaissance Venice.