Thomas William Francis Gann (13 May 1867 – 24 February 1938) was a medical doctor by profession, but is best remembered for his work as an amateur archaeologist exploring ruins of the Maya civilization.
Thomas Gann was born in Murrisk Abbey, County Mayo, Ireland, the son of William Gann of Whitstable, and Rose Garvey of Murrisk Abbey. He was raised in Whitstable, where his parents were prominent in the sociel life of the town. Somerset Maugham named the heroine of Cakes and Ale Rosie Gann . Gann trained in medicine in Middlesex, England.
In 1894 he was appoinrted district medical officer for British Honduras, where he would spend most of the next quarter century. He soon developed a keen interest in the colony's Maya ruins, which up to then had been little documented.
He also traveled into Yucatán, exploring ruins there.
Gann discovered a number of sites, including Lubaantun, Ichpaatun and Tzibanche. He published the first detailed descriptions of such ruins as Xunantunich and Lamanai. He made important early exploration at such sites as Santa Rita, Louisville, Belize, and Coba. At Tulum he documented buildings overlooked by previous explorers, including a rare find of a temple with the Pre-Columbian idol still intact inside.
He wrote several books about his travels and explorations.
Thomas Gann retired as British Honduras's medical officer in 1923.
Mid-way through his career, in 1908 Gann became the honorary lecturer in Central American Antiquities at the new Institute of Archaeology of the University of Liverpool (not long after he had taken the Diploma there in Tropical Medicine). Liverpool subscribers funded several of his fieldwork seasons up to 1912, but the connection failed to thrive after the First World War. Many published sources follow Thompson, in the (British) Dictionary of National Biography, in being seriously mistaken about Gann’s Liverpool connection, wrongly dating it to the period when it was inactive or had lapsed.
- Colin Wallace, "Reconnecting Thomas Gann with British Interest in the Archaeology of Mesoamerica: An Aspect of the Development of Archaeology as a University Subject", Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 21(1), pp. 23-36, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bha.2113.