National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Thomas Paradise

Affiliation: University of Arkansas

Tom Paradise is a geosciences professor and the former Director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas. He comes from a diverse background in the environmental sciences, architectural and historic/material preservation, Middle East, Mediterranean, and North Africa regional studies, and cartography/GIS. Having researched the unique architecture of Petra, Jordan since 1990, he has published more than sixty articles, reports, and chapters on Petra and continues to advise U.S. and foreign agencies on cultural heritage management and architectural deterioration, Mediterranean and Middle East architecture, and geographic visualization and cartography. Paradise has published more than 2000 maps for agencies, authors, publishers, TV networks, and corporations. Also, Paradise has been a script and graphics consultant to a number of documentary production companies including Nova (PBS), NatGeo, Discovery, and Smithsonian Channels. His award-winning PBS Nova special, PETRA: Lost City of Stone (2016), is one of PBS’ highest rated specials ever. He was the cartographer and author of the award-winning Atlas of Hawai‘i, and the popular Student Atlases of Hawai’i, and Arkansas: an Illustrated Atlas. In addition, he is a gemologist (GG, FGA) in the U.S. and U.K. Professor Paradise is a Fulbright Senior Scholar (Jordan: 1998-2000) and has taught abroad in Rome, Amman, Venice, and Tunis, as well as in the U.S. in Georgia, Hawai’i, Arizona, California, and Arkansas.


In a visually stunning presentation, Professor Paradise will discuss thirty years of research in the magical ruined city of Petra, Jordan. Coming from a diverse background in geology, materials conservation, climatology, and architecture, Paradise will address his work in the Valley of Petra since 1990 discussing the melding of the geosciences, cultural heritage management, history, architecture, and politics that have driven his research.  From understanding deterioration of 2,000-year-old sandstone structures, effects of tourism at this UNESCO site, to new findings on architectural alignments to the Sun, many answers to haunting questions regarding Petra will be examined.  Professor Paradise has been involved with the writing and filming of eight international TV specials (NatGeo, Smithsonian, Discovery, PBS Nova) on Petra as well and will discuss his research in these television specials.

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