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.
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).
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.