Hi, I’m Diane Davies and I am an archaeologist, which is someone who studies ancient remains to try and understand how people in the past lived. 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?
After studying archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London, I spent a year travelling around Central and South America, working on excavations and 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 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
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 where I hardly ever saw him. 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!
Helping Teachers and Pupils
When I returned to England, I was also 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 teachers and children learn about them. So I decided to support both teachers and children in creating resources, such as my award-winning resource, Journey Through the Maya World, and in visiting schools to tell you all about my exciting life as a Maya archaeologist.
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, maths and their wonderful pyramids and temples. 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.