New Book: The Road to Ruins by Ian Graham

My old friend and colleague Ian Graham has just published his new auto-biography, a must-read for all Mayanists and Maya enthusiasts. The Road to Ruins is published by the University of New Mexico Press and can be purchased here at

A book launch will be held in Cambridge at the Peabody Museum on March 27.

From the Peabody Museum website:

This lively memoir chronicles Graham’s career as the “last explorer” and a fierce advocate for the protection and preservation of Maya sites and monuments across Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. It’s full of adventure and high society, for the self-deprecating Graham has traveled in wonderful company and tells entertaining stories about his encounters with Rudyard Kipling, a family friend from Graham’s childhood.

Born in 1923 into an aristocratic family descended from Oliver Cromwell, Ian Graham was educated at Winchester, Cambridge, and Trinity College, Dublin. His career in Mesoamerican archaeology can be said to have begun in 1959 when on a trip to the U.S., he turned south in his Rolls and began traveling through the Maya lowlands photographing ruins. He has worked as an artist, cartographer, and photographer, and has mapped and documented inscriptions at hundreds of Maya sites, persevering under rugged field field conditions.

Graham is best known as the founding director of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1981, and dedicatedly remained the Maya Corpus program director until his retirement in 2004.

Graham’s careful recording of Maya inscriptions are often credited with making the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphics possible. But it is the romance of his work and the graceful conversational style of his writing that make this autobiography must reading not just for Mayanists but for anyone with a taste for the adventure of archaeology.

Ian Graham currently lives in England. In addition to the many volumes of his Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, he is the author of a biography of the early Mayanist Sir Alfred Maudslay.