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Richard D. Hansen is a distinguished American archaeologist and currently Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He previously has been an Affiliate Research Professor and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mesoamerican Research in the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University and an Associate Scientist (Level IV) at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA. Hansen is a specialist on the ancient Maya and also a director of the Mirador Basin Project, which investigates the mainly unexplored territory in the northern Peten, Guatemala.[1][2] Sites of special significance which Hansen has excavated and mapped within the Mirador Basin include the Mirador, Nakbe, Tintal, Xulnal, Waka', El Pesquero, Tamazul, Porvenir, La Florida, and 42 additional major and minor sites within the Mirador system, many of which are linked by an extensive early causeway system and contain similar art, artifacts, and architecture.


Hansen graduated with a PhD degree from UCLA as a National Graduate Fellow, a Jacob Javits Fellow, the UCLA Distinguished Scholar (1988), the Hortense Fishbaugh Memorial Scholar (1987–1988), a Fulbright Scholar (1989–1990), the UCLA Outstanding Graduate Student (1991), and the UCLA Chancellor's Marshall (1992). Hansen is founder and president of the non-profit Foundation for Anthropological Research and Environmental Studies (FARES). In December 2005 he was given the National Order of the Cultural Patrimony of Guatemala by the Guatemalan President, Oscar Berger, and in 2008 was named Environmentalist of the Year for Latin America by the Latin Trade Bravo Business award. He received the 2009 Idaho State University Achievement Award. He was the recipient of the prestigious Orden del Pop, bestowed by Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala in 2012, and was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2012. He was named 2014 Kislak Lecturer at the U.S. Library of Congress in 2014. He has published over 118 scientific papers, a book and popular articles plus another 278 professional papers and technical reports in scientific formats and symposia throughout the world. He has conducted and directed archaeological research throughout the world, including Israel, the U.S. Great Basin, the U.S. Southwest, and Central America.

Most of his achievements have been gained in the Mesoamerican region and early Maya civilization. In 1989, discoveries by Hansen and his colleagues established the idea that ancient Maya societies had centralized governments far earlier than once supposed, building several massive centers as early as 1000-600 B.C. Hansen also identified data for an extensive collapse of the Preclassic Maya about A.D. 150. The Classic Maya cultural history lasted for another 600 years, ending around A.D. 850, with the collapse of the use of ceremonial centers in what are now parts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.[3]

Hansen was the historical consultant in the 2006 Mel Gibson film, Apocalypto, and has appeared in 26 film documentaries including several National Geographic specials, the Discovery Channel, CNN, CNN International, Koch Television, British Broadcasting Corp, Sixty Minutes Australia, CBS, History Channel ABC 20/20, ABC Primetime Live, ABC Good Morning America, Russia 1 Television, Alstom Foundation Films, TimeLine Films of London,Guatevision, and the Learning Channel. His project is working to establish important investigation, conservation and community development programs in the Mirador Basin of northern Guatemala. He has marshalled the support of major conservation and research organizations in the U.S., such as the Global Heritage Fund, as well as the major industrial firms of Guatemala (Foundation for Maya Cultural and Natural Heritage, PACUNAM; Friends of the Natural and Cultural Heritage of Guatemala (APANAC), as well as the government of Guatemala.


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