Dimitri Nakassis wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Dimitri Nakassis of the University of Toronto was recently awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.


The associate professor of Archaelogy at the University of Toronto is among 24 people awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship—the so-called “genius grants” given to some of America’s best and brightest scientists, writers, artists, academics and entrepreneurs.


About Dimitri Nakassis

Dimitri Nakassis
COURTESY John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


Dimitri Nakassis, 40,  grew up in Gaithersburg, MD. 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. He has taught at the University of Toronto since 2008.

He has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado Boulder (2014­–2015), the Florida State University (2007–2008), and Trinity University (2006–2007). His articles and essays have appeared in the American Journal of Archaeology, Hesperia, and Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, among others.

Nakassis says his interest in ancient Greece was inspired in part because he spent so much of his childhood summers in Greece.


“My father is Greek. Most of family never left Greece. A lot of my childhood was spent over the summers in Greece.”


Nakassis’ Work

MacArthur’s profile reads:

A classicist transforming our understanding of prehistoric Greek societies, Dimitri Nakassis’ rare intellectual breadth, comprising philology, archaeology, and contemporary social and economic theory, has equipped Nakassis to challenge the long-held view that Late Bronze Age Mycenaean palatial society (1400–1200 BC) was a highly centralized oligarchy, quite distinct from the democratic city-states of classical Greece.



The Fellowship

The Fellowship is awarded is awarded annually to individuals “of outstanding talent” who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more. MacArthur Fellows, according to the Foundation, are chosen for their “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” This genius grant” comes with a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant, paid out quarterly over five years.

With the grant, Nakassis is continuing to work on a book about the political organization of Greece in the late Bronze Age, as well as traveling to Athens for an archaeological survey and overseeing the digital imaging of ancient tablets from Pylos. The award will bring attention to his field, which he said can suffer from a perception that historians have closed the book on ancient Greece.


“People think the whole country’s been excavated already. There are amazing things coming out of the ground every year that radically transform our understanding of the ancient world.”



Read more

MacArthur Foundation

Washington Post article

2015 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellow Dimitri Nakassis: A classicist, thinking outside the box

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