Giles Greville Healey (1901–1980) was born in 1901 in New York City. He was educated in France and Germany and later attended Choate Preparatory School; graduating from Yale University in 1924 with a degree in chemistry. In 1928 he volunteered for a two-year expedition to South America to collect curare for medicinal purposes, during which he accomplished extensive cartographic work on the Orinoco River for the Royal Geographic Society.
Meeting his future wife, artist Sheila Healey in 1940, they married in 1943, moved to Mexico in 1944 and he began a career as a Mayan archeologist, discovering 28 ruins. He was best known for the photography in 1946 of the pre-Columbian painted murals at the Maya site of Bonampak. He recorded his discoveries in still photographs and movie film, and produced the motion picture “Maya Through the Ages,” based on footage shot during the 10 years he spent in Guatemala and the Yucatán Peninsula. Prior to the discovery of Bonampak's vivid murals dated to around A.D 800, Mayanists had contended that the Classic Maya knew little of war and bloodshed and did not practice bloody sacrifices.