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National Geographic Films Millsaps Project at Kaxil Kiuic

Find out about the Millsaps Archaeology minor and other exciting study abroad opportunities at Millsaps!

Edited to add: PBS airs the National Geographic program, "Quest for the Lost Maya", on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, at 9:00 p.m., CST. Check local times.

In the summer of 2011, Dr. George Bey, Professor of Anthropology and Associate Dean of International Education, took seven Millsaps students - Mandi Strickland, Whitney Gilchrist, Brittany Tourelle, Phillip Boyett, Andy Kennedy and recent graduates Katharine Veron (B.A., 2010) and Evan Parker (B.A., 2011) - with him to the Kiuic Biocultural Reserve in the Yucatán Peninsula to carry out archaeological excavations at the sites of Kaxil Kiuic. Dr. Bey has been working on this project, officially known as the Bolonchen Regional Archaeological Project (BRAP) for the past decade, but was joined this year by  film crews from the National Geographic Society as well as a Japanese broadcasting company from the Tokyo Broadcasting System, which brought in a Japanese movie star (Nao Ohmori) to narrate.

National Geographic crew films students at work in Yucatán

National Geographic is creating a special documentary, to be broadcast nationally on PBS in the first half of 2012, about new ideas concerning the rise of the Maya civilization and the eventual abandonment of sites like Kiuic. The crews were in Yucatán for the entire six-week duration of Dr. Bey's stay and filmed at sites such as Kiuic, Uxmal, Xocnaceh, Yaxhom, and various archaeological sites outside of Merida. The Japanese company was filming for a five-hour special highlighting current archaeological projects all around the world.

The crews filmed not only Dr. Bey and his students but also Tomás Gallareta Negrón, Millsaps scholar of Maya studies, and William Ringle of Davidson College and his students who were carrying out survey and test excavations at the Maya sites of Yaxhom and Nohoch Cep.

Dr. Bey said, "We were really excited because it's important for people outside of academia to learn about the Maya and see what archaeology looks like. This is also a great opportunity to highlight what Millsaps is doing." Dr. Bey also said that the students had a lot of opportunity to work with the crew, even if it was a bit cumbersome.

Student Mandi Strickland digs into her studies

Millsaps student Mandi Strickland said, "I was so taken aback by the beauty of the structures and their excavations, that I cannot wait to see it again through the eyes of National Geographic. It was a little hectic and working with them came with the price of hard work, but I hope that they were able to capture the unique first hand experiences that I had with the artifacts and their corresponding excavations. I feel so lucky that I was a part of this and that it was caught on film."


- Erin Sanders
Class of 2013