Current faculty and staff:
Armstrong Professor of Classics || Director of PASP
Personal site: http://sites.utexas.edu/tpalaima/
Tom Palaima developed as an undergraduate mathematics major a deep passion for ancient Greek language, literature, history and culture under the influence of two inspirational mentors, David Gill, S.J. and Carl Thayer, S.J. Since childhood he has been deeply moved by human trauma and how its effects are expressed in human lives. He is certain that these two interests are intermeshed.
He 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. While a MacArthur fellow (1985-1990), he founded PASP, a research center concentrating on three scripts (Cretan Hieroglyphic, Linear A and Linear B) of the prehistoric Aegean area in the second millennium BCE and collaborative study of their texts. PASP has archives of early researchers, especially pertaining to attempts to decipher the scripts (Linear B successfully in 1952). Primary resources include offprints, work notes, correspondence and tablet photographs, all made accessible through systematic finding aids.
Palaima and PASP have been long been involved with the monograph series Aegeaum, the scholarly journal Minos, and bibliographical databases. PASP regularly hosts visiting scholars for periods of intensive study and teaching. PASP has been archiving and digitizing its most important holdings, under the able guidance of Elizabeth Sikkenga, Sue Trombley, Christy Costlow Moilanen, Dygo Tosa and Sarah Buchanan; and is now, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Pluta, supporting Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) of Linear B tablets and other kinds of inscriptions.
Palaima’s work in Aegean prehistory, as a student of the late Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., is grounded in the study of the tablets and their texts and cultural contexts. His work has covered many aspects of life in the Mycenaean period: writing and literacy (including doodles); paleography and scribal administration; feasting rituals; the ideologies of kingship and manipulation of power; personal and official naming practices; warfare; religion; phusis, metaphusis, and kosmos; labor mobilization; power manipulation; and larger comparative historical evaluations.
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 occasionally other periodicals) and of book reviews and feature pieces to the Times Higher Education, The Texas Observer and Michigan War Studies Review. Recent topics include the war poems of Robert Graves and their classical antecedents; violence in ancient Greek literature; the kinds of war stories, poems and songs that appeal to combat veterans, ancient and modern; the modern literary use of classical writing about warfare; hard-traveler songs from Homer to Bob Dylan; the concept and practice of mentoring, and time and thought in higher education.
Palaima is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London. He has been awarded three Fulbright fellowships (Greece 1979-80, Austria 1992-93 and Spain 2007) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala 1994.
Program Coordinator || Faculty Profile
Joann Gulizio is Lecturer and Post-doctoral Fellow in the Classics department at UT Austin. She specializes in the study of Mycenaean religion, focusing on evidence offered by the Linear B tablets. Her dissertation, Mycenaean Religion at Knossos, evaluated the evidence for religion during the Mycenaean phases of occupation at the site of Knossos by examining the textual evidence for religion contained in the Knossos tablets in conjunction with the contemporary archaeological and iconographical evidence from the site itself. Joann also works as a ceramics specialist at the Bronze Age site of Iklaina in Messenia, Greece under the direction of Dr. Michael Cosmopoulos of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She received her Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from UT Austin in 2011.
Garrett R. Bruner received his Masters of Science in Information Studies (MSIS) from UT Austin’s School of Information in 2017. He serves as PASP’s all-around archivist, performing processing, description, arrangement and reference of archival materials, both physical and digital. He also acts as Registrar and database manager to the Oplontis Project under director Dr. John Clarke and has prepared two forthcoming chapters on the Villa A finds to be published in the third volume of their project’s publication. He also works at Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission (TSLAC) where he manages the analog to digital conversion of audio materials.
Graduate students and researchers in PASP
Cassandra Donnelly is a fifth year PhD student who is in the process of completing her dissertation, “Writing and Marking in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean,” which identifies networks of literacy and trade active on either side of the Late Bronze Age collapse. When Cassie came to PASP five years ago she did not know that her research interests in Near Eastern and Aegean scripts would lead her to Cyprus and the undeciphered Late Bronze Age Cypro-Minoan script. With encouragement from Dr. Tom Palaima and Nassos Papalexandrou, she began searching the PASP archives for Cypro-Minoan material where she benefited from the past research of Nicolle Hirschfeld, who introduced her to Cypro-Minoan potmarks. Cyprus and its potmarks eventually led Cassie out of PASP to visit the CREWS project at the University of Cambridge, where she was a Visiting Fellow, the British and Ashmolean Museums and the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI). She spent last academic year (2019-2020) at CAARI and the Cyprus Museum researching potmarks thanks to the Archaeological Institute of America’s Olivia James Traveling Fellowship. In Cyprus, she compiled the data that now forms the backbone of her dissertation. She hopes that her dissertation will rewrite the history of writing in the Bronze Age Mediterranean to include informal networks of literate traders operating at the edges of the great empires of their day. When these empires collapsed, the traders and their scripts remained.
Graduate Student || Website
Michele Mitrovich is a Russian-American second-year PhD student in the field of Classical Archaeology. Her research focuses on Minoan iconography, animal iconography in the Aegean and Mediterranean as well as cultural interconnections in the Bronze Age Aegean and Mediterranean.
Jared is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Classical Languages and Classical Archaeology. He works on archival projects for PASP, like cataloging Linear B photograph collections and preparing them for digitization. He specializes in Aegean Writing Systems and enjoys learning about historical figures in the field, like Alice Kober and Emmett Bennett.
Professor, Middle Eastern Studies
John Huehnergard is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at UT Austin and Professor emeritus of Semitic Philology at Harvard University. His research focuses on the comparative and historical grammar of the Semitic languages. He also has a long-standing interest in writing systems and scripts, and teaches a large undergraduate lecture course on writing and literacy and an undergraduate seminar on decipherment.
Jo Ann Hackett
Professor, Middle Eastern Studies
Co-Director of the Perachora Peninsula Archaeological Project || Website
Course Director of the Bachelor of Archaeology
Lecturer, Greek and Roman Archaeology
Co-Director Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity Program
Department of Ancient History
Macquarie University || Faculty Profile
Susan Lupack was awarded her B.A. with honours in Classics from New York University, and then her M.A. in Latin and her Ph.D. in Classics, with a concentration in Greek and Roman Archaeology, from the University of Texas at Austin. During her graduate career, she spent two years at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens working on her doctoral thesis, “The Role of the Religious Sector in the Economy of Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece,” the first year with a Fulbright Fellowship, and the second as an American School Capps Fellow. After obtaining her doctorate, she was awarded a year-long postgraduate fellowship by the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, which she used to turn her thesis into a book. Since that time, Susan has published many articles and book chapters on Minoan and Mycenaean economy and society, including two chapters in the Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean: “Minoan Religion” and “Mycenaean Religion.”
Susan is also an active field archaeologist, and has worked on projects in Italy, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, including the Pylos Regional Archaeological Survey and the Athenian Agora Excavations. From 2006 to 2017 she was working on the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project (EBAP), from 2006 to 2012 as co-director and since then as a Senior Ceramics Analyst, for which she and her co-directors were awarded a major five-year grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC [equivalent of ARC]).
In January 2020 Susan led the first season of a new field project in Greece focused on theSanctuary of Hera at Perachora with her co-director Panagiota Kasimi, the Ephor of the Corinthia. In their first season they focused on the area above the Heraion called the Upper Plain, whose nature, with its various domestic structures, fountain house, and extensive waterworks, has been disputed: Payne, the site’s initial excavator (1930s), saw it as a substantial town, while Tomlinson (1969), working thirty years later, referred to it as “a scatter of houses.” Fifteen eager Macquarie students worked tirelessly with the senior staff in their pursuit to fulfill the research aims of the project: to verify and document the legacy data in the region, and to complement that with the data gathered through an intensive surface survey, all with the overall goal of illuminating the nature of the settlement that surrounded and supported the sanctuary. For more information and students’ accounts of the project please see: https://aaia.sydney.edu.au/perachora-peninsula-archaeological-project/
Susan has taught at Brooklyn College, University College London, and the University of Pennsylvania, and from 2013 to 2017 she held the position of Editor of Hesperia, The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She was very happy to join the Ancient History Department of Macquarie University in February 2017, where she endeavours to bring her enthusiasm for the ancient world to her students in Greek archaeological and language classes.
She has edited the “Homeric World” section of the new Cambridge Homer Encyclopedia (Cambridge University Press 2020) and her chapter on the continuity of Mycenaean religion recently appeared in Collapse and Transformation (Oxbow Books). In 2021 her chapter on “Mycenaean Religion in Minoan Territory” will appear in Local Horizons of Greek Religion (Cambridge University Press) and she is currently working on a chapter on “Ecstatic Experience in Mycenaean Religion,” in Ecstatic Experience in the Ancient World (Routledge). In addition, you can see her recent Ted Ed video on the decipherment of Linear B here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iePEw_cHp8s
Stavroula (Stephie) Nikoloudis
Lecturer and Coordinator, Greek Studies
La Trobe University, Australia || Faculty Profile
Stephie Nikoloudis received her BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Modern Greek and her MA in Archaeology from The University of Melbourne, followed by her PhD, as a member of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory, from The University of Texas at Austin. As an archaeologist, she specialises in the Aegean Bronze Age and the Linear B script, which reflects the oldest surviving form of the Greek language, ca. 1450-1200 BCE.
Her primary research to date explores issues of socio-economic organisation, identity and cultural diversity in the Mycenaean world. She is continuing her work on the ra-wa-ke-ta, an official traditionally interpreted as the military commander of the state, arguing that he played a key role in mediating the integration of ‘outsiders’ into Mycenaean society. She is also responsible for the study of the Mycenaean figurines from the site of ancient Eleon in central Greece.
Her teaching centres on ancient and modern Greek language and literature. She is especially interested in questions relating to ethnic identity and cultural diversity, migration, diachronic language development and language education. Among the
new subjects she has designed for La Trobe’s Greek Studies program is a three-week intensive course taught in Greece, aiming to enhance students’ oral skills as well as their knowledge of Greek language and culture from Mycenaean to Modern.
Professor, University of Colorado || Faculty Profile
Dimitri Nakassis is associate professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Colorado. He received his B.A. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Michigan, and his M.A. in Greek and Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the archaeology and scripts of the Aegean Bronze Age, in particular the administrative practices of the Mycenaean state. He has published articles on Linear A, Homer and Hesiod, archaeological survey, Greek religion and history, and Mycenaean economy, society and prosopography. He is the author of Individuals and Society in Mycenaean Pylos (Leiden 2013), and is co-director of the Western Argolid Regional Project, an archaeological field survey in southern Greece.
Travis County Archivist
Christy Costlow earned her Masters of Science in Information Studies from UT Austin’s School of Information in 2007. While a student, she worked as PASP’s archivist, focusing on the Emmett L. Bennett, Jr., collection. Since 2009, she has worked as the archivist for Travis County, where she founded and has grown the county government’s first official archives program
Assistant Professor, University of Missouri || Faculty Profile
Sarah Buchanan was a Ph.D. student in Information Studies and PASP archivist between 2013-2016. She is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri within their Library and Information Science program. Her research interests include museum archaeology, digital classics, and archives.
Peter van Alfen
Curator of Greek Coins, American Numismatic Society
Middle Eastern Studies
Aren’s academia.edu page
Aren Wilson-Wright is currently an Excellence Initiative Fellow at Radboud University in the Netherlands. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich where he completed his Habilitation in Old Testament studies in 2019. He also received a BA in religious studies from Indiana University in 2010 and a PhD in Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near East from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. As a researcher, Aren seeks to answer “big” questions by drawing on a wide range of data and methodologies. At the moment, his intellectual interests fall into three overlapping categories: the religions of ancient Israel, cultural contact between the ancient Near East and Aegean worlds, and the origin and spread of alphabetic writing.
Aren has published his research in a variety of venues. His first book, Athtart: The Transmission and Transformation of a Goddess in the Late Bronze Age (Mohr Siebeck, 2016), proposes a new model for studying deities in the ancient world using the goddess Athtart as a case study. His second book, Jeremiah’s Egypt: Reflections of the Saite Period in the Book of Jeremiah (SBL Press, 2020), highlights the importance of Egypt for understanding this prophetic work. Aren’s current project—These Are Your Gods, O Israel!: A Study of Non-Yahwistic Deities in the Biblical Text—builds on the results of his first book. He plans to argue that there was significant regional and social variation in the types and forms of gods worshipped in ancient Israel. This project has resulted in two preliminary publications—“The Helpful God,” published in Vetus Testamentum and “Bethel and the Persistence of El,” published in the Journal of Biblical Literature—and is supported by a two year grant from the Radboud Excellence Initiative.
In addition to his research on Israelite religion, Aren is working on a number of longer and shorter range projects related to the Aegean world including: the spread of alphabetic writing from the ancient Near East to the Aegean, a reevaluation of Semitic loanwords in Linear B, the etymology of the divine name Aphrodite, and the nature of evil in ancient Israel and Greece. Earlier this year, Aren presented a paper on this last topic as part of a seminar on “Translating Evil,” which he helped organize with Tom Palaima. Research for the first topic has yielded three journal articles so far and will hopefully culminate in a book-length publication.
Kevin is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Classics. He earned his M.A. from the University of British Columbia in 2016, and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology. His research focuses on the emergence of cities and states in Iron Age Italy (c. 1000-100 B.C.).
He worked on various projects for PASP, such as creating RTI files of the Pylos Tablets, assisting the digitizing of correspondence between Emmett L. Bennett, Jr. and Alice Kober for online access, and editing a film script. He has been pleased to learn the names and contributions of the major figures behind Linear B’s decipherment, in particular Alice Kober and Bedřich “Hittite” Hrozný.
Director Emeritus of PASP
Kevin Pluta’s CV
Kevin Pluta is the research and project director in PASP. His research involves Mycenaean administration, literacy, and scribal procedures. He has been involved with several projects in Greece, most recently with the imaging of the Pylos tablets for the publication of Palace of Nestor IV.