BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Milestones: S. Thomas Parker (1950–2021)

Renowned archaeologist of Roman Jordan and the Arabian frontier

S. Thomas Parker with Aphrodite at Petra. Courtesy of the American Center of Research

Thomas (Tom) Parker, renowned archaeologist of Roman Jordan, passed away suddenly on September 12, 2021 in Raleigh, North Carolina at the age of 71. Tom had a long research career in Jordan, where he directed the Limes Arabicus and Roman Aqaba Projects and co-directed the Petra North Ridge Project.

Tom first became interested in archaeology while studying for his BA in history and religion at Trinity University. He received his Ph.D. in history from UCLA in 1979, completing his dissertation on Roman and Byzantine fortifications along the Limes Arabicus in Jordan. Shortly after receiving his doctorate, Tom secured a position in the History Department of North Carolina State University (NCSU), were he remained for the rest of his academic career. He received many accolades and awards while at NCSU, including the Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Research and Distinguished Graduate Professor Awards in 2017 and 2018 and the Michael Dickey Outstanding Research Mentor Award in 2021. Tom’s mentorship influenced many students and colleagues over the past 40 years and he always relished hearing about and trumpeting their accomplishments.

Tom was a steadfast advocate of archaeology in Jordan and served on the board of the American Center of Research (ACOR) since 1987. His research profoundly changed the perception of Roman and Byzantine Jordan as a provincial backwater, highlighting the important resources the region provided not only for Roman and Byzantine administrations but also the diverse populations that lived along the Limes Arabicus. Tom’s extensive historical knowledge was coupled with his interest in using ceramics not only as a temporal indicator but also as a means for understanding local economies and trade.

Over his career, Tom published over 1,000 articles, book chapters, and newsletter contributions, and he produced three major monographs (with three more forthcoming) on his archaeological research. He received over 1 million dollars in grants and awards to fund his research, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, Dumbarton Oaks, the Samuel Kress Foundation, and the Foundation for Biblical Archaeology, as well as NCSU and ACOR.

Tom’s current and former students and colleagues will miss his mentorship, generosity, and scholarship, as well as his terrible jokes, his joie de vivre, and his knee-slapping laugh.

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Megan Perry is Professor of Biological Anthropology and a member of the Classical Studies Program at East Carolina University. She is also co-director of the Petra North Ridge Project in Jordan.

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