About Dr Diane – Schools

Hi, I’m Diane Davies and I am an archaeologist, which is someone who studies ancient remains to try and understand how people lived in the past. I am quite a unique archaeologist as I specialize on the Ancient Maya – a civilisation that people here in the UK know very little about.


Why the Maya?

Dr Diane sitting in the remains of an ancient Maya house she excavated

After studying archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London, I spent a year travelling around Central and South America, working on excavations, spending time with the locals and visiting archaeological sites. None impressed me so much as the Maya site, Palenque, in Mexico and it was this beautiful site in the middle of the jungle that inspired me to learn everything I could about the Maya.

Moving to America

As little is known about the Maya in the UK, I applied to various universities in America and was extremely fortunate to be offered a place and a scholarship on a PhD programme at Tulane University in New Orleans. I was there for 10 years, taking many classes and exams on every ancient civilisation in the world. I was examined very closely on everything to do with the ancient and modern Maya and I taught classes to the students there.

I was very lucky to receive money from the National Science Foundation to work at the Maya archaeological site of San Bartolo in Guatemala, famous for its beautiful murals. I spent several years working in the jungle and then afterwards living with a Guatemalan family whilst analysing all the amazing finds. As they only spoke Spanish I became quite fluent in the language.

Moving back to the UK

Rufus, my partner in crime!

I was very excited to return to England in 2012 as I had been missing friends and family as well as marmite! I had wanted to return earlier, but I had adopted a very cute street dog from Argentina called Rufus and did not want him to go through the 6 months of quarantine in England. The rules changed though in 2012 and so he was able to fly back and live with me straight away!

Rufus is always by my side at home, whether I am writing or going for a run in the countryside. I speak to him in Spanish (the language of the country he came from), but he also understands English too, he is quite a clever dog!

Spreading the word about the amazing Maya!

When I returned to England, I was very excited to hear that the Maya were now a topic in the Primary History curriculum. However, there was no Maya expert who could help schools. So I decided to support both teachers and children in creating resources and in visiting schools telling children about my exciting life as a Maya archaeologist and hoping to inspire them to become one.

Dr Diane speaking to children at Somerville Primary School, Birmingham

My job is my passion!

I am very fortunate that my job does not seem like a job to me at all. I absolutely love what I do and never want to retire! It gives me no end of pleasure to see the faces of both children and adults when I show them some of the Maya achievements in art, writing, calendars, maths and their wonderful pyramids in the rainforest.

I have a great passion for this truly exceptional culture and it is my goal for both young and old in the UK to be as fascinated by the Maya as I am!

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