William L. Fash, Jr.

Charles P. Bowditch Professor of Central American and Mexican Archaeology and Ethnology; Co-Director, Meso Lab and the Santander Program for Research and Conservation of Maya Sculpture

William Fash served as Chair of Harvard’s Department of Anthropology from 1998 – 2004, and as Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 2004 – 2011. He worked on archaeological digs in Arizona, and Copán, Honduras, Central America during his graduate studies, and has been working at Copan ever since, directing a series of multi-institutional, multi-national, and interdisciplinary research efforts devoted to illuminating all aspects of ancient Maya lifeways and culture history at this renowned ancient city. These include the Proyecto Arqueológico Acrópolis Copán, the Copan Hieroglyphic Stairway Project, The Copan Mosaics Project, and Proyecto Arqueológico Rastrojon (PARACOPAN). With Barbara Fash, and Honduran colleague Ricardo Agurcia he spearheaded efforts to conceive, design, and construct the Sculpture Museum in Copán to showcase the magnificent cultural heritage from this site. This museum has proved important to local pride and understanding of the rich cultural patrimony of Honduras and Mesoamerica as a whole.

From 2000 to 2003, he conducted archaeological excavations at the Xalla Compound in Teotihuacan, Mexico, with colleagues Leonardo López Luján and Linda Manzanilla, and currently joins Saburo Sugiyama, Veronica Ortega and Nawa Sugiyama in the Plaza de las Columnas Project in central Teotihuacan.

Fash teaches Harvard course Societies of the World 30 with Historian of Religions David Carrasco, Seminars on Heritage and Communities, and directed Harvard Summer Field Schools at Copan from 1995 to 2010.

B.A. (1976) Anthropology, University of Illinois
PhD. (1979) Anthropology, Harvard University
EdD. (1995; Honorary) Tulane University

Reconstruction in the Copan Sculpture Museum of Structure 6N-10, Rastrojon, Copan, Honduras (photo by Barbara Fash).

The Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, Mexico (photo by William Fash).

Selected Publications

Scribes, Warriors, and Kings: The City of Copán and the Ancient Maya (1991, 2001) 
Visión del Pasado Maya (1996, with Ricardo Agurcia)
Copán: The History of an Ancient Maya Kingdom (2005, with E. Wyllys Andrews)
The Ancient American World (2005, with Mary Lyons)
Gordon R. Willey and American Archaeology: Contemporary Perspectives (2007, co-editor with Jeremy Sabloff)
The Art of Urbanism: How Mesoamerican Kingdoms Represented Themselves in Architecture and Imagery (2009, co-edited with Leonardo López Luján).


  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Order of José Cecilio del Valle by the President of Honduras (1994)
  • Excellence in Teaching Award from the Harvard University Extension School
  • Hoja de Laurel de Oro, Honduras (2008)
  • Order of the Mat, Guatemala (2015)