Ian Morris is a historian and archaeologist. He began studying the ancient West as a student in the 1970s, excavating classical sites in Britain and around the Mediterranean (most recently, he directed Stanford University’s dig at Monte Polizzo in Sicily). A generation ago, historians regularly claimed that the glory of ancient Greece and the grandeur of Rome explained why the West dominated the globe; but the more that Morris looked into world history, the more doubts he developed.
He has spent the last four years writing a book called Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History and What they Reveal About the Future (Profile 2010), comparing Eastern and Western history across the last 15,000 years and concluding that what we really need to understand East and West is a combination of biology, sociology, and geography. And once we start seeing the past in this light, he suggests, we can get a pretty good idea of where East and West will go in the 21st century.
Ian Morris received his BA from Birmingham University and his PhD from Cambridge. Since then he has taught at the University of Chicago and Stanford University, where he is Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History and Archaeology. He has served as Senior Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences, Chair of the Classics Department, and Director of the Archaeology Center and the Social Science History Institute. He has published 11 books.
Barriers to Science
"There was an astonishing range of opinions expressed while I was there, some of them pure nonsense, others profound, all of them provocative."
Daniel Moylan, Deputy chairman, Transport for London