MacArthur Fellows Program

Ian Graham

Archaeologist | Class of June 1981

Cambridge, Massachusetts
58 at time of award
Area of Focus
Published June 1, 1981

About Ian's Work

Ian Graham is an archaeologist dedicated to the preservation and cataloguing of Maya relics.

Graham combines the study of Maya epigraphy and sculptural art with long-term field studies in Guatemala, British Honduras, western Honduras, Belize, and southern Mexico.  Since 1975, he has worked to compile an all-encompassing reference of hieroglyphic inscriptions on Maya sculpture that consists of photographs of carved surfaces, drawings, maps, and descriptive text.  He has published these documents in an ongoing series of folio volumes entitled the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions (co-author, 1975-2003).  Graham’s work has saved a fragile, written record from destruction and provided an invaluable resource for other archaeologists and scholars.  His additional books include Archaeological Explorations in El Peten, Guatemala (1967), The Art of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing (1971), and Alfred Maudsley and the Maya: A Biography (2002).


Graham is the founder and director of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphics Program at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum.  In 1969, he led a pilot project that would become the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphics Program, and then joined the Peabody Museum in 1970.

Graham received a B.A. (1951) from the University of Dublin’s Trinity College.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Ian Graham
September 11, 2017
"Ian Graham"
The Times
Ian Graham , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
March 1, 2012
"Tales from the Crypt"
The Atlantic
Ian Graham , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
September 9, 2011
“Ian Graham, The Improbable Explorer”
The Times Literary Supplement
Ian Graham , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
August 20, 2009
"Mexico: Ian Graham: Explorer, Archaeologist, Photographer"
Harvard University
Ian Graham , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
September 13, 1999
"Harvard Archaeologist Graham Identifies Stolen Mayan Artifact"
The Harvard Crimson
Ian Graham , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
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