Sylvanus Morley

Sylvanus Griswold Morley ( born June 7, 1883 in Chester, Pennsylvania, † September 2, 1948, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States) was an American archaeologist, font and Maya researcher.

Morley's career began with a study of the civil engineer at the Pennsylvania Military Academy. After his interest in Maya culture through the finds Edward Herbert Thompson was awakened, he moved to Harvard University and studied archeology there. He received his degree in archeology, he made 1908.

Morley was in the first half of the 20th century significantly to the study of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. His most important works include his extensive excavations at the Maya site of Chichen Itza. He also published several research papers on the hieroglyphic writing of the Maya and wrote several popular science books, to make the world of the Maya to a wider audience. Although due to the modern state of research some of his theories had to be discarded, he scored in his lifetime to the most important archaeologists with an emphasis on Mesoamerica. His work in particular on the use of the calendar with the Maya are still quoted today. His engagement was instrumental in that projects that ultimately discovered a lot about the Maya, found interest and financial support.

In addition, Morley worked as an agent of the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence ( ONI ), but this was not known until after his death.


  • An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs, reprint. Dover Publications, New York City, USA in 1975.