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National Science Foundation Grant Awarded to Millsaps College Professor for Research in Puuc Region of Mexico

by Web on March 16, 2017

Dr. George Bey, professor of sociology and anthropology and Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences at Millsaps College, is one of three researchers to receive a $286,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Joining Bey in receiving the grant are Dr. Tomas Gallareta Negron of Centro Yucatan-INAH in Mérida, Yucatán (Mexico), and Millsaps Scholar of Maya Studies, and Dr. William Ringle, chairman of the department of anthropology at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. Dr. Ringle serves as senior investigator on the NSF project.

Grant funding will be used for a three-year project to carry out research focused on how understanding patterns of cultivation and architectural construction by the ancient Maya in the eastern Puuc Hills of Yucatán, Mexico, shaped the regionalism of the area during that time.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to research the agricultural sector of the ancient Maya, along with stone working and architectural construction, which will help us better define the growth of the region, its social hierarchies, and its political organization,” said Bey. “This project will also help us strengthen our longtime collaboration with our partners in Mexico, and provide new opportunities for Mexican and American students to work together.”

A key component of the mulityear project will be the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). LiDAR is a method of surveying that utilizes laser to provide high-resolution maps. The use of this survey method will offer researchers a detailed overview of landscapes, allowing them to determine features such as roads, architecture, and the layout of centers of activity. The terrain of Kaxil Kiuic, a 4,500-acre biocultural reserve owned by Millsaps College, will be completely mapped as part of this project.

“Millsaps College has a long history of significant and important archaeological work in this area, and the introduction of the LiDAR technology will have an immediate and important impact on our work,” Bey noted. “Our students have been working there for years, and I’m excited about how this newest project will build on the research that has been done to date and lay the foundation for future students to explore, excavate, and interpret Maya history.”

The Puuc region of the Yucatán was densely settled between 600 and 950 A.D., but was later largely abandoned. The region remains largely uninhabited to this day.