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Richard Diehl


Richard Diehl in a Oaxacan Market

Richard Diehl in a Oaxacan Market

Richard Diehl

Richard A. Diehl is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Born and educated in Pennsylvania, he earn a BA (History), and MA and PhD degrees in Anthropology at Penn State University in the 1960s. He had the good fortune to acquire two caring mentors who also became leaders in his chosen field of Mesoamerican archaeology, William T. Sanders and Michael D. Coe.

He began his research career as student with Sanders (1961-64) in the Teotihuacán valley near Mexico City, learning excavation, field survey, and even contemporary ethnography. Then, while still a graduate student at Penn State, he worked with Coe at San Lorenzo (1966-67), the first great Olmec centers in Veracruz, Mexico.

He taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1968 until 1986, when he moved to the University of Alabama, retiring in 2007. Upon arriving at the University of Missouri, he spent the 1969 field season at Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala, after which, together with his MU colleague Robert Benfer, he initiated a long-term project of excavations and survey in the urban residential at the Toltec capital of Tula.

That project lasted through the 1970s, after which he returned to southern Veracruz to work on a University of New Mexico project at the Classic period center of Matacapan in the Tuxtla Mountain near beautiful Lake Catemaco, headed by his friend Robert S. Santley.

Upon moving to the University of Alabama he became immersed in full-time administration with positions that included Chairman of the Anthropology Department (1986-1993), Acting Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC (1993-94), Acting Director of the UA School of Music (1997-98) and Executive Director of University Museum and Director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History (1998-2005).

During that period he did manage to conduct one small, single-season field project at La Mojarra, Veracruz, unsuccessfully searching for stone monuments with texts inscribed in the enigmatic Isthmian Writing System. He also had the great fortune to contribute to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition Mexico: Thirty Centuries of Splendor and serve as Co-Curator of the exhibition Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico at Washington, DC's National Gallery of Art.

In 2005 he returned to fulltime teaching in preparation for retirement. He continues to teach one class a year in retirement because teaching can be a lot of fun, and recently has become involved in studies of Olmec writing, Olmec transport and carving of stone monuments, and the anthropology of the Amazon.

He has written several books and close to 100 articles, essay, reviews, etc. in his career, and is in the planning stages for a popular book on the ancient Mesoamerica mega-city of Teotihuacán, the jumping-off spot for his life as an anthropologist and archaeologist. However that book will have to fit in between considerable travel, six grandchildren, and learning (at long last) how to cook.
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