Thomas G. Palaima
Classicist | Class of 1985
About Thomas' Work
Thomas Palaima studies Aegean Bronze Age scripts and cultures, and the history of writing.
Palaima’s investigations, in the palaeography, archival typology, and archaeological contexts of inscriptions, center on the origins and eventual cultural impact of writing. He has reconstructed the scribal administration of a major palatial center of ca. 1200 B.C. and studies the development of administrative and economic systems in the Aegean and Near East during the second millennium B.C. He is also concerned with topics in Minoan and Mycenaean religion, economy, and society, especially with kingship and the multiethnic components of Bronze Age societies. He writes frequently on war and violence, both ancient and modern.
Palaima is the Dickson Centennial Professor of Classics at the University of Texas. He also directs the University’s Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP), a research center he founded for the study of Aegean Bronze Age scripts and the societies that used them. PASP has the most complete photographic archives of these texts in the world and also serves as a repository for the papers and research materials of earlier scholars.
Palaima received a B.A. (1973) from Boston College and a Ph.D. (1980) from the University of Wisconsin.
Thomas Palaima is the Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics and director of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) at the University of Texas at Austin. Palaima and PASP have been long been involved with the monograph series Aegeaum, the scholarly journal Minos, and bibliographical databases. PASP has been digitizing its most important holdings and is now supporting Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) of Linear B tablets and other kinds of inscriptions. Palaima has written and lectured widely on human creative responses to war and violence and on music and songs as social commentary. Since 1999, he has been a regular contributor of political and cultural commentaries to the Austin American-Statesman and of book reviews and feature pieces to the Times Higher Education. He has worked with military veterans on giving voice to their own stories in such initiatives as NEH-Aquila Theatre’s Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives and The Warrior Chorus. Palaima is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London. He has been awarded three Fulbright fellowships (Greece, Austria and Spain) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala.
Last updated December 2016.