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Elizabeth Graham

Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology, UCL

I am an archaeologist, and my research focuses on the Maya of Precolumbian and early colonial Mesoamerica. I work in Belize and have done so since 1973. I am presently directing excavations at the site of Lamanai on the New River Lagoon in northern Belize, and at the site of Marco Gonzalez, on Ambergris Caye.

I have several research projects in which I am engaged. I have most recently published on the mission churches dating to the early Spanish colonial period in Belize. My work at Lamanai has centred on lesser known periods of transition, such as the years of the Maya collapse, during which time Lamanai's population continued to thrive, and the transition from to the colonial period. My work on the coast reflects my interest in the environmental impact of human populations in these environments, particularly with regard to resource exploitation and the mitigation of the effects of rising sea levels. I am also interested in coastal trade and exchange, and in neotropical urbanism.

I have also been focusing on exploding the myth of human sacrifice, which is generally believed to have been practiced in the Maya and Aztec worlds.

I have taught a variety of courses over the years in both Canada and the U.K. Most courses focus on origins of civilisations, but I have also taught human evolution, and environment and urbanism in the humid tropics. Here at UCL I teach lectures in a variety of courses but focus on Mesoamerica, the Maya, and the Aztecs at the undergraduate level and on the Maya at the graduate level. I also supervise a range of Ph.D. students from around the world who come to the Institute to study Mesoamerican civilizations, although I have also supervised students who work in Cuba and the Caribbean, as well as in the fields of cultural heritage, conservation, and the rise of urbanism.


  • –present
    Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology, UCL