Ian Morris is Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History at Stanford University and a Fellow of the Stanford Archaeology Center. He is also Director of Stanford's archaeological excavation at Monte Polizzo, Sicily.
Born in Stoke-on-Trent, England, in 1960, he attended a local comprehensive school. After working in bakeries, plastics plants, and toilet factories plus a spell as a guitarist in a heavy metal band he graduated with First Class Honors in Ancient History and Archaeology from Birmingham University in 1981 and a PhD from Cambridge University in 1985. He held a Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge, from 1985 through 1987, and then moved to the United States. After teaching in the History and Classics departments at the University of Chicago he relocated to the Santa Cruz Mountains in California in 1995, where he still lives with his wife, dogs, and cats. He teaches world history, archaeology, classics at Stanford University, and has served as chair of Stanford's Classics department, Director of its Social Science History Institute and Archaeology Center, and Senior Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. In 2009 he won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has excavated on archaeological sites in Britain, Greece, and Italy.
He has published ten books and more than eighty articles on archaeology and history. The most recent books are The Greeks: History, Culture, and Society (co-authored with Barry Powell; 2nd edition, Prentice-Hall, 2009) and The Dynamics of Ancient Empires (co-edited with Walter Scheidel, Oxford University Press, 2009). His eleventh book, Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, will be published in the USA by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October 2010 and in the UK by Profile Books in November 2010. It traces eastern and western history across the last fifteen thousand years, from the final days of the Ice Age into the twenty-second century, explaining why the West came to dominate the rest—and what will happen next.
He is currently writing a new book, called War! What is It Good For? This will tell the story of war from prehuman times to our own, making two controversial claims—first, that war has helped humanity as well as harming it; and second, that war is now changing out of all recognition.
Ian Morris's grants and prizes include awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National Geographic Society, and National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has appeared on television on A&E, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and PBS. He started digging on archaeological sites when he was fourteen, and from 2000 through 2007 directed Stanford University's excavations on the acropolis of Monte Polizzo, Sicily, an ancient village occupied between 650 and 300 BCE and again in the Middle Ages between 950 and 1150 CE.